Tetanus is a disease caused by toxic bacteria found in the environment. The toxin usually enters the body through wounds where contaminated dirt, dust or manure can penetrate broken skin.
Puncture wounds like stepping on a nail may be the most common way to get tetanus, but the bacteria may also find an entry point of broken skin from insect bites, dental infections, exposed bone and intravenous drug use.
If you have exposure, you may get ill anywhere between three and 21 days later. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average incubation period is eight days. How can your Medicare insurance help protect you from tetanus?
Medicare coverage for tetanus shots
Medicare covers some vaccines under Part B, including shots to protect against the flu, hepatitis B, pneumococcus and COVID-19. Generally, Medicare Part D covers other adult shots to prevent illness, including shingles, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Pertussis is also known as whooping cough.
Tdap is the shot that protects adolescents and adults from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. The vaccine that children get to prevent these diseases is called DTaP.
A law that took effect on January 1, 2023, expanded the list of vaccinations that Medicare beneficiaries can get at no cost. The CDC website shows all vaccines the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends. If you have Medicare prescription drug coverage and get one of the shots on the ACIP list, you will not be responsible for a Part D deductible or copayment. Tdap and DTaP are two of the shots included in the list of ACIP vaccine-specific recommendations.
The CDC recommends tetanus shots as a preventive measure for everyone from babies to adults, warning that infection from tetanus bacteria can lead to severe health issues, including a tightening of jaw muscles, known as lockjaw. You may also experience difficulty swallowing and breathing. Complications include lung infection, blocked arteries, fractures and even death.
Lab tests cannot confirm tetanus, so let your doctor know if you’ve had cuts, scrapes or skin punctures followed by symptoms of tetanus. These symptoms can include cramping in your jaw, involuntary muscle spasms, stiffness, trouble swallowing, jerky movements, headache, fever, sweating, and blood pressure or heart rate fluctuations.
If you have injuries and tetanus symptoms, your doctor may be able to treat the disease with aggressive wound care, antibiotics or tetanus immune globulin (TIF) medication. Part D generally covers approved prescription drugs except injections administered in your doctor’s office under Part B.
Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage
If you are new to Medicare, sign up for Part D before your Initial Enrollment Period ends; otherwise, your premium may increase indefinitely when you sign up later. If you need help signing up for Part D or want more information about your options, a licensed insurance agent can help you research availability and pricing in your area.