What Is Shingles And How Do You Catch It
Shingles is a painful skin rash that forms on one side of the body. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus. Shingles can affect people who have had chickenpox, even if they had the illness long ago.
Once youve had chickenpox, the virus becomes inactive in the body and can reactivate years later. The virus can remain inactive in your nerve roots for many years, and then wake up and travel down the path of a sensory nerve to the skincausing shingles. You may develop shingles more than once in your lifetime.
RELATED: Shingles treatments and medications
Does Medicare Cover Shingles
Shingles is a viral disease that affects around 1 million people each year in the U.S. Although it can affect people at any stage of life, its most common in people over 50. Since shingles can be more painful the older you get, many Medicare recipients want to know if theyre covered for the shingles vaccine, which can reduce the risk of shingles by 90%.
The two vaccines currently available in the U.S. are Zostavax and Shingrix, although Shingrix is more effective and is the CDCs preferred vaccine. It comes in two doses taken 2 to 6 months apart, and most recipients have only mild side effects.
In this article, well look at ways to make sure youre protected from shingles and help you find out how much of the vaccines cost is covered by Medicare.
Can This Vaccine Be Mixed And Matched With Other Vaccines
SAGE accepts two doses from different COVID-19 vaccine platforms of WHO Emergency Use Listing COVID-19 vaccines as a complete primary series.
For countries considering mix-and match schedules, WHO has made recommendations to ensure equivalent or favourable immunogenicity or vaccine effectiveness for heterologous versus homologous schedules:
- Either of the WHO EUL COVID-19 vectored vaccines can be used as a second dose following a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, dependent on product availability.
- The Pfizer vaccine can also be used as a second dose following any of the WHO EUL COVID-19 inactivated vaccines or any of the vectored vaccines .
- The Pfizer vaccines can also be used as a booster dose following any of the COVID-19 vaccines with WHO EUL.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Treatment For Shingles Nerve Pain
Does Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine
All Medicare prescription drug plans offer some level of coverage for the shingles vaccine. You will find this coverage under your Medicare Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan.
The amount you pay will vary based on your policy details and your deductible amount. For some enrollees, the shingles vaccine could be free, but others may pay full price if a deductible must be met before the cost-sharing benefits begin.
The shingles vaccine is not covered by Original Medicare . However, Medicare Part B may cover a doctor’s visit to get a prescription for the shingles vaccine.
Most Medigap plans, also called Medicare supplement plans, don’t cover the shingles vaccine because they don’t include prescription drug coverage.
Typical costs based on available plans in Charlotte, N.C. , Boston , and Los Angeles .
Find Cheap Medicare Plans in Your Area
Remember that coverage for the shingles vaccine is usually just one aspect of your prescription drug needs. And the best Medicare Part D plan for you is determined by its total performance, including how well its coverage matches your prescription needs.
Does Medicare Cover Shingles Vaccines
Most health insurance companies cover shingles vaccines, and so does Medicare. However, Original Medicare coverage wont cover the vaccines. You must be enrolled in a Medicare Part D drug plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes drug coverage in order to have prescription drug coverage that covers shingles vaccines. Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B , components of Original Medicare, wont cover shingles vaccines.
Other Medicare supplement plans, like Medigaps, dont cover shingles vaccines either.
You can enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan by itself, or enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part A, B, and D coverage. Either of these options will usually cover the Shingrix vaccine.
Every Medicare Part D plan is different and copays or coinsurance may vary from plan to plan. Deductibles also may apply.
Different Medicare Part D plans classify medications and vaccinations into different tiers. What tier your plan puts shingles vaccinations into will determine your copay. The best way to determine the insurance plan thats best for you is to compare formularies to find the one that covers as many of your medications and vaccinations as possible or contact Medicare customer support.
You May Like: What Age Can I Get The Shingles Vaccine
Can You Get Shingles If You Had The Chickenpox Vaccine
It depends. Anyone who has ever had chickenpox is susceptible to shingles. When the chickenpox virus comes out of hiding and reactivates, it causes numbness, tingling, blisters, and sometimes flu-like symptoms. If you never had chickenpox because you were vaccinated, you run a very low risk of getting shingles.
How Much Does The Shingles Vaccine Cost
Depending on your payment source, your cost and coverage for the shingles vaccine can vary. There are costs associated with the vaccine and its administration. Vaccines can be given at a pharmacy, doctors office, or clinic.
If you use your insurance coverage, the least expensive option is typically an in-network pharmacy. If you have an annual deductible for your prescription drug coverage, consider getting both doses of the vaccine within the same calendar year.
Recommended Reading: How Do They Test For Shingles
Medicare And The Shingles Vaccine: Are You Covered
The shingles vaccine is covered through Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage as part of your prescription drug benefits. In 2022, your actual costs for the vaccine depend on the specifics of your plan.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, all vaccines will be free under Medicare Advantage or Part D including shingles. No matter your plan, you’ll pay no deductible, copay or other costs for a shingles vaccine.
In 2022, you could pay less than $50 per shingles shot with a Medicare Part D plan from Aetna or Wellcare. If you don’t have prescription drug coverage, the full price for two doses of the Shingrix vaccine is $324, and several cost-saving options can help you get Shingrix for less.
Find Cheap Medicare Plans in Your Area
How Well Does Shingrix Work
Two doses of Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , the most common complication of shingles.
- In adults 50 to 69 years old who got two doses, Shingrix was 97% effective in preventing shingles among adults 70 years and older, Shingrix was 91% effective.
- In adults 50 to 69 years old who got two doses, Shingrix was 91% effective in preventing PHN among adults 70 years and older, Shingrix was 89% effective.
Shingrix protection remained high in people 70 years and older throughout the four years following vaccination. Since your risk of shingles and PHN increases as you get older, it is important to have strong protection against shingles in your older years.
Recommended Reading: What Causes Shingles On Your Body
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Shingrix
Studies show that Shingrix is safe. The vaccine helps your body create a strong defense against shingles. As a result, you are likely to have temporary side effects from getting the shots. The side effects might affect your ability to do normal daily activities for 2 to 3 days.
Most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after getting Shingrix, and some also had redness and swelling where they got the shot. Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. Some people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.
You might have a reaction to the first or second dose of Shingrix, or both doses. If you experience side effects, you may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Guillain-Barré syndrome , a serious nervous system disorder, has been reported very rarely after Shingrix. There is also a very small increased risk of GBS after having shingles.
If you experience side effects from Shingrix, you should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System . Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS websiteexternal icon, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
If you have any questions about side effects from Shingrix, talk with your doctor.
Shingles Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know
- Medicare. Medicare Part D plans cover the shingles vaccine, but there may be a cost to you depending on your plan. There may be a copay for the vaccine, or you may need to pay in full then get reimbursed for a certain amount. Medicare Part B does not cover the shingles vaccine. Medicaid. Medicaid may or may not cover the vaccine. Contact your insurer to find out.
Read Also: What Are Reactions To Shingles Vaccine
Do I Need A Prescription For A Shingles Vaccine
Once you have a Medicare insurance plan that covers the shingles vaccine, youll need to find out whether a prescription is necessary. This is dependent on where you get vaccinated. You wont need a prescription if you get vaccinated at your doctors office.
Some pharmacies that provide vaccines do so under the standing order of a supervising physician. This is convenient for patients because it saves them a trip to the doctors office to acquire a prescription before receiving the vaccine. You may need to call your pharmacy to see how they handle shingles vaccine orders.
If your pharmacy requires a prescription, youll need to contact your medical provider first. They may want to see you in the office beforehand, but not always. Sometimes, the doctor may give you the shingles vaccine at your appointment.
Once you have the prescription in your possession, the remaining steps are pretty straightforward. Take the prescription to a pharmacy in your plans network to be filled. A pharmacist will administer the vaccine in their clinic area.
Its possible to save money on shingles vaccines with a SingleCare pharmacy savings card. SingleCare coupons can help uninsured or underinsured patients get shingles vaccines at a discounted price.
RELATED: Find a pharmacy near you
Find Medicare Coverage For Your Shingles Vaccine
Many top Part D companies offer coverage for the shingles vaccine. Companies like Aetna, Cigna, Humana, SilverScript, and WellCare are all known to provide coverage for the shingles shot.
Plans vary across the nation, be sure to verify the policies in your area offer coverage for the shingles shot. An insurance agent is a great resource for finding the most suitable Part D or other Medicare insurance policies for you.
Give us a call at the number above or fill out our online rate form for a personalized plan review because you deserve the best coverage. Start your journey now to compare plans online.
Also Check: What Does The Shingles Virus Look Like
How Do I Get Part D
Medicare Part D is a great way to get coverage, not only for the shingles vaccine but for prescription drugs as well. There are two ways to add Part D prescription drug coverage to your Medicare health insurance:
What Should I Do If I Have Shingles
If you think you may have shingles, see a doctor as soon as possible and get a professional diagnosis. While some cases are mild and may clear up on their own without treatment, other cases can cause severe pain and require medication to manage.
Its also important to take steps to avoid spreading the virus. The Centers for Disease Control recommends keeping the rash covered and washing your hands often. Avoid touching the rash as much as possible and avoid contact with people who may be at risk, including:
- Premature infants
- Pregnant women who have not had chickenpox or been vaccinated for it
- People with HIV or weakened immune systems due to cancer treatment, organ transplant, or immunosuppressive drugs
Your doctor may recommend antiviral drugs, or simply treating the rash with over-the-counter medication such as calamine lotion to soothe the pain of the blisters. Treatment can reduce the pain and duration of the symptoms, but doesnt cure the disease altogether.
For many seniors, the most painful part of shingles isnt the rash, but post-herpetic neuralgia, which can last a year or more in some cases. Although not everyone who gets shingles will experience post-herpetic neuralgia, it can have a big impact on those that do. Some people develop chronic pain that lasts for years and affects their quality of life.
You May Like: Is Shingles A Sign Of Hiv
The Pfizer Biontech Covid
The WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization has issued interim recommendations for the use of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19. This article provides a summary of those interim recommendations youmay access the full guidance document here.
Here is what you need to know.
According to SAGE, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine is safe and effective.
Who can take the vaccine?
The vaccine is safe and effective for all individuals aged 6 months and above. In line with the WHO Prioritization Roadmap and the WHO Values Framework, older adults, immunocompromised persons and health workers are the highest priority-use groups. All efforts should be taken to achieve high vaccine coverage rates in the highest and high priority-use groups.
What Shingles Vaccines Are Available
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , there are 2 vaccines licensed and recommended to prevent shingles in the U.S.: Shingrix and Zostavax.2 The CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get 2 doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months, to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease.3
Don’t Miss: Can I Get Shingles If I Had The Vaccine
How Does Your Medicare Deductible Affect Your Vaccine Costs
The deductible amount of your Medicare plan affects how much you pay out of pocket before your insurer starts contributing to the cost of your prescription drugs. Depending on how many medications you take, the deductible could affect how much you spend on the vaccine.
Below, we’ll compare how much you’d pay for the shingles vaccine on two plans with different deductibles. In this situation, the person with the MedicareRx Walgreens plan pays less overall, even though they’re paying full price for the shingles vaccine.
Scenario: Shingrix is the only medication needed during the policy
|AARP MedicareRx Walgreens|
|Cost of two doses of Shingrix vaccine||$160 each, for a total of $320, because the deductible hasn’t been met||$45 copay each, for a total of $90|
|Total annual cost of premiums and shingles vaccine||$788||$1,122|
In the example above, the AARP MedicareRx Walgreens prescription drug plan has a $455 deductible for Tier 3 drugs like the shingles vaccine. That means if you haven’t already met your deductible, you would pay full price for the vaccine, which would be $320 for two doses. The plan costs $38.60 per month for someone living in Charlotte, N.C. If the shingles vaccine is the only Tier 3, 4, or 5 drug needed during the policy year, your total annual spending would be $788.
Vaccines For Adults Enrolled In Medicaid
- Vaccine Primary source of coverage1 Total Medicaid or CHIP Private Uninsured Influenza 43.6% 32.8% 40.8%* 16.3%* Tetanus 62.6 56.7 66.7* 50.1* Tdap 29.2 22.6 35.2* 16.3* Pneumococcal 25.2 16.9 13.3* 9.3* Herpes zoster 22.9 7.4 12.8* 4.3* Hepatitis A 16.9 16.9 20.6* 13.9* Hepatitis B 32.1 33.7 38.8* 26.2*
You May Like: How Do You Take Care Of Shingles
When Should I See A Doctor Because Of The Side Effects I Experience From Shingrix
Shingrix causes a strong response in your immune system, so it may produce short-term side effects. These side effects can be uncomfortable, but they are expected and usually go away on their own in 2 or 3 days. You may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Contact your healthcare provider if the symptoms are not improving or if they are getting worse.
In clinical trials, Shingrix was not associated with serious adverse events. In fact, serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. For example, for every 1 million doses of a vaccine given, only one or two people might have a severe allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction happen within minutes or hours after vaccination and include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness. If you experience these or any other life-threatening symptoms, see a doctor right away.
Why Doesn’t Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine As Free For All Seniors
Many people think that a vaccine that’s recommended by the CDC for those over age 50 would be fully covered by Original Medicare. However, there are a few reasons why you may end up paying hundreds of dollars for the two-dose regimen.
- Medicare coverage levels: Some Medicare drug plans have better cost-sharing benefits than others, and how much you pay for the shingles vaccine depends on the plan you choose.
- Pharmaceutical classification: Medicare classifies the Shingrix vaccine as a part of its pharmaceutical coverage, meaning it would fall under Medicare Part D coverage rather than Part A or Part B. In contrast, most private health insurance, either through an employer or through the marketplace, classifies the shingles vaccine as a part of its free preventative coverage.
- Type of pharmaceutical: Shingrix is a Tier 3 drug made by GlaxoSmithKline, and there isn’t a generic alternative. This could mean that your out-of-pocket costs are higher than for other medications.
You May Like: What Medicine Is Prescribed For Shingles