According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), the number of tetanus cases has sharply declined in recent years. There are various reasons for this, including the introduction of effective treatments and vaccines.
Despite tetanus still being reported each year, the numbers are now very low. Much of this success is due to the increased availability of tetanus shots and booster shots.
But what is a tetanus shot, do you really need one, and what will it cost you if you don’t have insurance?
Find out all you need to know about these shots in this guide on how much a tetanus shot costs without insurance in 2023.
What Is Tetanus?
First, let’s take a closer look at what tetanus actually is. Also known as ‘lockjaw’, tetanus is an infectious disease, caused by a bacterial infection. This infection arises from contamination with Clostridium tetani virus (hence the name), a toxin-producing bacterium.
It’s a serious disease with some very potent effects. Affecting the nervous system, tetanus produces severe muscle contractions of the jaw and neck.
Other symptoms include muscle stiffness or spasms, difficulty swallowing, and even seizures. In rare cases, it can be fatal.
There is no cure for tetanus, and complications can be life-threatening. But there’s no need to fear the worst. The vaccines that protect you from this debilitating disease are readily available.
Possible Contamination Sources For Tetanus
Tetanus-causing bacteria are found everywhere, but they need an entryway into your body to infect you with tetanus. The time between exposure to illness is, on average, 10 days, although cases of between 3 to 21 days have been reported.
The most common ways in which you could be infected, are:
- Puncture wounds caused by sharp objects or crush injuries
- Wounds contaminated with dirt, feces (possibly from a pet), or sputum
- Insect bites
- Dental infections
How Best To Protect Yourself Against Tetanus
The best ways to protect yourself against this potentially deadly toxin are through vaccinations and regular boosters, as well as proper wound cleaning and care.
What Is A Tetanus Shot?
A tetanus shot is the name given to the vaccine and booster that you receive for protection against the tetanus infection.
The CDC recommends tetanus vaccination shots as a preventative measure for all infants and children, as well as boosters for adults.
In the event of a natural disaster, tetanus immunization is usually provided by medical responders to injured victims.
Are There Different Types Of Tetanus Shots?
Yes, there are different types of tetanus shots.
Babies and children younger than 7 years old receive a vaccination that protects them against tetanus as well as other diseases, called DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) or DT (diphtheria and tetanus).
Older children and adults receive Tdap and Td shots. These also offer multiple protections, against the diseases tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
Different combinations, at different strengths, may be suitable for various age groups.
Tetanus shots given as a booster to a person already vaccinated against tetanus may differ from one given to an adult at risk who was never vaccinated.
The Cost Of Tetanus Shots At Popular Pharmacies
You can get a tetanus booster shot at various places, like private doctor’s rooms, community clinics, and some urgent care facilities. If you believe that you have been put at risk, you can get a shot at any hospital emergency room, too.
But for an ordinary preventative booster, pharmacies are the location of choice. It’s convenient, and usually quite affordable.
Your location and the type of shot may influence the price, though. The pharmacy you get your tetanus booster shot from may also differ in price from other pharmacies.
The Average Cost Of A Tetanus Shot Without Insurance
The out-of-pocket cost of a tetanus shot is usually between $25 and $60. The amount you pay depends on your location and where you choose to get the shot. Some places may have higher administration fees and will therefore charge more.
The two Tdap booster shots (used for preteens and older) offered in the United States are Adacel and Boostrix. No generic alternatives to these vaccines are available.
Here are some examples of what you’ll pay for them at popular pharmacies:
- In New York, Washington, or LA, you can expect to pay $52 for Adacel at Rite-Aid, but over $65 at the pharmacy section of Walmart for the same shot. The Boostrix shot will cost you about $48 at Rite-Aid, and over $60 at Walmart, in those same cities.
- At Costco in Chicago or San Antonio, you’ll pay more than $51 for Boostrix and over $57 for Adacel.
- At CVS Pharmacy in all the cities mentioned above, you can expect to pay more than $50 for Boostrix and almost $59 for Adacel.
The fact is, tetanus shots are expensive, and without insurance, it can be an expense you just can’t afford. That’s why affordable health insurance is the best remedy to this problem.
When Do You Get Tetanus Shots?
A tetanus shot is not a once-off experience. To maintain immunity to the disease, several shots are needed in childhood, and booster shots are recommended at 10-year intervals during adulthood.
The American Academy Of Pediatrics, or AAP, recommends that children under the age of 7 receive their DTaP shots at the following intervals:
- 2 months of age
- 4 months of age
- 6 months of age
- 15-18 months of age
- 4-6 years old
Children above the age of 7 are recommended to get the Tdap booster shot at approximately 11 or 12 years old. After 10 years, they’ll receive the Td shot and every 10 years thereafter.
If however, you are at risk of exposure to the tetanus bacteria and it’s been a long time since your last booster, a tetanus shot is a must for your to-do list.
If I Get ACA-Subsidized Health Insurance Will It Cover My Tetanus Shots?
Many ACA-subsidized health plans cover vaccines like tetanus shots, but it’s always best to check with your provider.
Medicare covers tetanus shots, but the reason you need one will influence your coverage. Medicare Part B covers tetanus shots needed as a precautionary measure after an injury or illness, whereas Part D covers the regular tetanus booster shot that you’d get every 10 years.
If you’re on the Part C Medicare Advantage plan, both categories are covered. For help with enrolling for Medicare Advantage, call us at 1-888-235-1090 (TTY 711)
Medicaid programs in most states cover some adult immunizations. But tetanus vaccines aren’t necessarily covered by Medicaid in some of these states.
Check with your local Medicaid representative for precise information regarding tetanus shot coverage in your state.
Tetanus Frequently Asked Questions
Am I required by law to have tetanus shots and boosters?
Every US state has its laws about requirements for children to get certain vaccines before attending school or daycare facilities.
Parents may refuse these vaccines for various reasons, including personal, religious, or medical reasons. However, the vaccine exemption criteria also vary from one state to the next. You won’t be forced to have the tetanus shot as an adult, but it’s strongly recommended that you have it for the sake of your health.
Can tetanus shots cause side effects?
Any vaccine has the potential to cause side effects, but these are not all experienced by all recipients. Some people may have no side effects at all.
Common side effects associated with tetanus shots are pain or swelling at the injection site and sometimes, a mild fever.
Can I be allergic to tetanus shots?
In rare cases, tetanus shots can cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms can arise within minutes or up to a few hours later. They include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and/or throat, dizziness, weakness, or a rapid heartbeat.
If you experience any of these symptoms, report to an emergency room.
Tetanus shots and boosters can mean the difference between continued good health and an agonizing condition, which may even prove fatal. Don’t take the risk – ensure that you stay up to date with your tetanus shots schedule. Affordable health insurance makes this easier.
Call us today for help with choosing a health insurance plan that’s right for your needs. No matter your socio-economic or employment status, we’ll find a plan that you can afford. Because at Enhance Health, we believe that everyone has the right to good health insurance.