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Does Medicare Cover Shingles Vaccination

How Much Does The Shingles Shot Cost

Medicare & You: Vaccines

There is currently only one shingles vaccine available in the United States, sold under the brand name Shingrix. An older shingles vaccine called Zostavax was taken off the market in November 2020.

Shingrix is delivered in two shots. Without insurance, each shot retails for around $202 for a total of $404, according to GoodRX in 2021. Discounts can lower that cost by nearly $50 per shot.

Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans may cover most of the cost of the Shingrix vaccine, but you could have out-of-pocket costs for both the shot and your doctor visits.

Before getting the vaccine, check with your plans administrator to make sure your policy covers the shingles shot.

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.

How Much Does The Shingles Vaccine Cost

The amount you pay for the shingles vaccine will depend on how much your Medicare plan covers. Remember that if you only have original Medicare and no prescription drug coverage through Medicare, you may pay full price for the vaccine.

Medicare drug plans group their medications by tier. Where a drug falls on the tier can determine how expensive it is. Most Medicare drug plans cover at least 50 percent of a drugs retail price.

PRice ranges for the shingles vaccine

Shingrix :

  • Deductible copay: free to $164 for each shot
  • After deductible is met: free to $164 for each shot
  • Donut hole/coverage gap range: free to $74 for each shot
  • After the donut hole: $7 to $8

To find out exactly how much you will pay, review your plans formulary or contact your plan directly.

Recommended Reading: Is There Medication For Shingles

What Treatment Options Are There For Shingles

There is no cure for shingles. Antiviral medicines may help shorten the duration and make it less severe. They may also help prevent pain. The available medicines your personal doctor may prescribe are most effective if you can take them within three days of the rash appearing.

Pain relievers may also help with the pain.

Topical relief recommendations include a cool washcloth or dabbing calamine lotion on affected areas. Additionally, oatmeal baths may help relieve some of the itching.

Who Needs The Shingles Vaccine

Does Medicare Pay For Shingles Shots?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends the shingles vaccine for people aged 50 and older. It is a manufactured inactivated vaccine intended to prevent shingles. The vaccine is administered in two separate doses given by intramuscular injection, separated by two to six months.

The shingles vaccine is considered an important vaccine for seniors because our immune system weakens as we age. The recommendation for vaccination is based on the potential severity of symptoms and long-term complications.

A shingles vaccine called Zostavax is no longer used in the U.S. as of November 2020. If you received that vaccine, the CDC recommends talking with your doctor about getting the Shingrix vaccine.

The CDCs fact sheet on shingles lists these risks and potential complications:
  • About one in three people will develop shingles at some point in their lifetime
  • More than 99% of people in the U.S. born before 1980 have had chickenpox even if you dont remember it which poses risk for shingles
  • Your risk for getting shingles and complications from it increase as you get older
  • About one in 10 people who get shingles develop ongoing nerve pain
  • Shingles may lead to other complications involving the eye, including blindness rarely, shingles may lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, brain inflammation, or death

Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles, but it does not prevent chickenpox.

Read Also: What Does Shingles Look Like

Which Vaccines Does Medicare Cover

Medicare covers most vaccines. Some are covered by Part B, and some are covered by Part D.

Getting the vaccines you need is one of the most important things you can do for your health and for the health of those around you. Vaccines are your first line of defense against a number of infectious diseases. If you dont get sick, then you cant infect your loved ones, your friends or others in your community.

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

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Does Medicare Cover Shingrix And The Shingles Vaccine

By Kristen Roloff, quality care coordinator at Network Health Originally published on 10/27/2020 at 8:00 a.m.

As most of us age, we start to become familiar with the names of common medicines and immunizations to help keep us living our best and healthiest lives. One of these immunizations has been getting a lot of attention for its ability to prevent a serious health issue. Were talking about shingles and the vaccine to prevent it, called Shingrix.

How Can You Save On The Cost Of The Shingles Vaccine

Medicare, Medicaid Will Reportedly Cover COVID-19 Vaccine

These five tips can help you pay less for a shingles vaccine.

  • Visit an in-network pharmacy with a prescription: If you have a prescription drug plan, you could pay less for your vaccine by having it administered at an in-network pharmacy. Getting the shot at a doctor’s office may lead to an additional doctor’s fee for administering the vaccine.
  • Sign up for Medicare Part D or improve your drug coverage: During open enrollment, you can select a prescription drug plan that covers Tier 3 drugs, including Shingrix. Remember to consider the total policy costs for all of your prescriptions. Also, if you receive a low-income subsidy, Medicare Part D plans could be available for free.
  • Get a discount coupon for the shingles vaccine: Pharmaceutical retailers and networks may offer vaccine discounts. Usually, you’ll present the coupon or the drug discount card at the pharmacy to get the savings.
  • Use a state pharmaceutical assistance program: A state program may be available to help you reduce the cost of prescription drugs including the shingles vaccine.
  • Get assistance from the vaccine maker: GlaxoSmithKline offers the GSK Patient Assistance Program for those who meet certain criteria. You may qualify if you earn less than $32,200 annually.
  • Read Also: What Do You Do For Shingles

    What Vaccines Does Wellcare Pay For

    All Medicare Advantage plans including Wellcare Medicare plans are required by law to cover all the same vaccines that are covered by Medicare Part B. This includes vaccinations for:

    • Flu Flu shots are typically covered once per year during flu season
    • Pneumococcal Coverage is for a one-time vaccine given in two doses, generally one year apart.
    • Hepatitis B Coverage is for a one-time vaccine given in two to four doses over one to six months for those at medium to high risk, including those with diabetes.
    • COVID-19 Coverage includes the two-dose vaccine from either Pfizer or Morderna and the single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. Medicare covers a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot at least six months after completing the two-dose cycle of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or at least two months after the Johnon & Johnson vaccine.

    Additional vaccines are covered if you have been exposed to a harmful virus or bacteria. For example, a tetanus shot would be covered if you stepped on a rusty nail, or a rabies shot would be covered if you were bitten by a stray dog.

    If your Wellcare plan includes prescription drug benefits, you may have coverage for some additional vaccines. Some of the vaccines covered by the prescription drug portion of a Wellcare Medicare Advantage plan may include:

    Does Medicare Cover Shingles Vaccine

    Learn if Medicare covers the cost of your shingles vaccination

    The shingles vaccine is given in one dose and has a 51% effective rate at reducing the risk of developing shingles. It is suggested that adults 60 and over get the one dose shot to help prevent getting shingles, even if you have not had chicken pox*. The shingles vaccine can be expensive, so the big question is, does Medicare cover it?

    Recommended Reading: How To Cover Shingles Rash

    Traditional Medicare Part B Does Not Cover Some Recommended Vaccines Including Shingles Shots Prescription Drug Plans Include Commercially Available Vaccinations But Are Likely To Require Some Payments From Beneficiaries

    Getty Images

    If youre about to make a move to Medicare from your private insurance, you might want to make sure youve had all your shots – especially your vaccination for shingles. Thats because coverage of recommended vaccines under Medicare is more complex than under private health insurance.

    Under the Affordable Care Act, private insurers are required to cover all recommended vaccines as preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs to beneficiaries. But under Medicare, different vaccines are covered under different parts of Medicare with inconsistent out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.

    In short, the shingles vaccine is not covered by Medicare unless you have a Part D prescription drug plan or an Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage even then, youre likely to have out-of-pocket costs.

    Medicare Part B covers certain vaccines, including flu and pneumonia, but not others, including shingles. Vaccines covered under Part B are provided to beneficiaries at no cost to them.

    If you have a prescription drug plan, Medicare Part D, it will cover other commonly available vaccines, including those for shingles. But even then, Part D is not required to provide cost-free coverage of preventive treatments. What this means is medications and vaccines covered by Part D plans will likely be subject to deductibles and copays, resulting in out-of-pocket costs.

    About The Shingles Vaccine

    Federal Register

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that healthy adults over the age of 50 get the shingles vaccine because it’s the only way to protect against the disease and its associated side effects. The risk of getting shingles increases as you age or if you have a weakened immune system. Always consult your doctor to find out if the shingles vaccine is right for you.

    The CDC-recommended vaccine, Shingrix, is a recombinant zoster vaccine that has two doses administered within six months of each other. It’s classified as a Tier 3 drug by most insurance companies, which means it’s a brand-name pharmaceutical with a higher copayment than a Tier 1 or 2 drug.

    Use the Shingrix vaccine locator to find where the shingles vaccine is being offered, and check with your Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage provider to see which locations give you the lowest price.

    Also Check: What Are Shingles On The Body

    Shingrix: Doses And Vaccine Information

    Shingrix is an injection, with two doses spaced two to six months apart. Shingrix is the CDC recommended vaccine for shingles prevention. This vaccine contains inactivated viruses, which makes it more tolerable for people with compromised immune systems. Receiving two doses of Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles.

    Can You Get The Shingles Vaccine For Free

    The shingles vaccine is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, a pharmaceutical company. GSK has a patient assistance program that may provide the vaccine to you at no cost if you meet these eligibility criteria:

    • You dont have prescription drug coverage or a Part D plan and have spent at least $600 during the calendar year
    • You are an adult, age 19 or older
    • You live in the U.S., Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia
    • You dont qualify for Puerto Ricos Government Health Plan
    • Your maximum monthly gross income does not exceed certain limits, depending on where you reside and your household size
    • You apply through your health care provider, who will register for the patient assistance program and submit your application

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    What Steps Can You Take To Make Sure You Are Covered If You Have Medicare Advantage With Drug Coverage Or Medicare Part D

    If you already have Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part D, contact your provider to check your coverage. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private companies that Medicare approves.

    If you are not yet on Medicare and want to find a plan that covers the shingles shot, you can use Medicares Find a Medicare Plan tool. This tool allows you to compare Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.

    S Of Medicare That Cover The Shingles Vaccine

    Relief coming to those on Medicare who can’t afford shingles vaccine

    The part of Medicare that covers the vaccine is your Medicare Part D plan or the Medicare prescription drug plan. Remember that a Part D plan is optional, so you might not be enrolled in one of these plans unless you decide to sign up for coverage. Part D typically provides coverage for prescription drugs, and the shingles vaccine is one drug that most plans cover. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, then your plan likely includes prescription drug coverage that will cover the vaccine. Since these Advantage plans are insurance plans administered by private insurance companies, you should contact your provider if you have any specific coverage questions or need help with the details of your plan. Many people also wonder if Medicare covers eye exams. These Medicare Advantage plans often include additional benefits like dental and vision coverage.

    Original Medicare will not cover the shingles vaccine. Medicare Part A, or hospital insurance, pays for hospital stays and inpatient care. Vaccines and preventive services are never covered under Medicare Part A. Medicare Part B, which is more traditional medical insurance, pays for doctors office visits, outpatient care, and many preventive services. Part B will cover many immunizations, like the flu vaccine, pneumonia vaccine, and hepatitis B vaccine. Unfortunately, Part B does not cover the shingles vaccine. If you are not enrolled in a Part D plan, then this vaccine will be an out-of-pocket cost for you.

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    How Much Will You Pay For Shingles Vaccines

    You can find the shingles vaccine on your Part D plan formulary or listing of covered medications. Check to see into which tier the vaccine falls the tier will define how much your insurer will pay and how much you will have to pay.14

    If your doctors office will provide the vaccination, check to be sure they can bill your plan directly. That way, youll have only the copay. Otherwise, you may have to make the full payment upfront and file with your plan for reimbursement. Also, check to be sure that the doctors fee for administering the shot is covered as part of your plans allowable charge.13

    Youll probably pay the least amount out-of-pocket by being vaccinated at a pharmacy thats within your drug plans network. But if you havent met your deductible for the year on your drug plan, you may pay full price for the vaccine.

    If you havent had your shingles vaccine yet and youre selecting a Medicare Advantage plan during the Open Enrollment Period, be sure its one of the medications on whatever plan you choose.

    When Does Medicare Cover A Shingles Vaccination

    While Original Medicare does not cover the costs of receiving the shingles vaccine, a number of vaccines including the shingles vaccine are generally covered by:

    You can compare Part D plans available where you live and enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan online when you visit MyRxPlans.com.

    If you have a Medicare plan that covers prescription drugs, the cost you might pay to receive the shingles vaccine varies from plan to plan, depending on factors such as:

    • Whether the pharmacy you use is in your plans network

    • Whether youve met your plan deductible

    • If you qualify for Extra Help paying your Medicare prescription drug costs

    Medicare Part B covers some of the costs of doctor’s office visits, medical supplies and other outpatient health care services.

    Certain preventive services, including some routine vaccinations, are covered by Medicare Part B:

    • Pneumococcal shots, which help prevent certain infections like pneumonia

    • Hepatitis B vaccine

    • Tdap shots to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis

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