Tetanus is a bacterial infection that affects your nervous system. While not as common as it used to be, tetanus can still be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Medicare makes it easy to protect yourself from the infection with free access to vaccines and tetanus care if you become infected.

Medicare Part D fully covers the Tdap shot, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. In this article, we’ll discuss how Medicare pays for the shot and other preventative services you can get covered.

Key takeaways:

  • Medicare Part D covers the Tdap shot.

  • The Tdap vaccine protects you from tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough.

  • If you have tetanus, Medicare Part B covers the shot to treat the bacterial infection.

What is tetanus?

You may have heard that stepping on a rusty nail causes tetanus. This isn’t quite true—any open wound can lead to tetanus. The tetanus bacteria “Clostridium tetani” commonly lives in soil, dust, and manure. If the bacteria enters your body through a wound, cut, or puncture, it can disrupt your nerve signals. This could cause muscle stiffness and spasms. Tetanus is often called “lockjaw” because muscle stiffness usually starts in the jaw.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Stiff neck muscles

  • Fever and sweating

  • Elevated blood pressure and rapid heart rate

  • Painful muscle contractions and spasms 

Treating tetanus involves wound care, medications to control symptoms, and administering tetanus antibodies into the bloodstream. You may also get the vaccine to treat tetanus.

How does the tetanus shot work?

There are three types of the tetanus vaccine:

  • DTaP, for children and babies

  • Tdap and Td, for adolescents and adults

DTap and Tdap vaccines work to fight diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus while Td and Tdap shots prevent tetanus and diphtheria. Adults should receive a tetanus booster every 10 years, which would likely only contain antibodies that prevent tetanus.

Medicare coverage for tetanus vaccine

Medicare Part D and Part B are both responsible for covering different types of vaccines. Your Part D insurance pays for prescription drugs while Part B pays for preventative services like vaccines.

The tetanus shot is covered under Medicare Part D. You’ll have no out-of-pocket costs for any shot that the CDC recommends, which includes tetanus. Although your drug plan will include most commercially available vaccines, you can check your formulary if you want to be sure about everything it covers.

If you receive the vaccine to treat tetanus after exposure, Medicare Part B will cover the cost of the shot. While you won’t pay anything for the vaccine, you may be subject to out-of-pocket costs for wound care, stitches, or any other medical service.

What other preventative services does Medicare cover?

Medicare has comprehensive coverage for preventative care, from vaccinations to wellness screenings and beyond. Here are a few other services you can schedule to make the most out of your healthcare plan:

  • Common vaccines like the flu shot, COVID shot, shingles, and RSV

  • Screening for cardiovascular disease, alcohol misuse, cancer, depression, diabetes, and more

  • Annual “Wellness” visit to review your medical history and create personalized health plans

  • Counseling for nutrition, alcohol misuse, tobacco cessation, and more

Preventative measures, like receiving the tetanus shot, are an important part of staying healthy as you age. If you have more questions about what Medicare covers, check in with a licensed Medicare Advisor for free advice that’s tailored to your specific health and financial needs. Schedule a time with us or call us at 855-900-2427 to get your questions answered.

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