Dont Panic If Youre Put On A Waiting List For The New Shingles Vaccine
Ann Dieffenbach got her first shot of the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix, at her CVS pharmacy in Bethesda on Feb. 25. Its a two-injection series, the second shot recommended two to six months after the first. But Dieffenbach, 63, hasnt yet been able to get that second shot: There has been no vaccine available.
She has called numerous stores, only to be told its on back order. In a few weeks, her six months will be up. Its been frustrating, says Dieffenbach, a retired National Institutes of Health communications director. I havent even been able to find a place that will put me on a waiting list.
Dieffenbach is not alone. Many people nationwide are between shots, unable to complete the series. Until recently, I was one of them. I got my first shot at a CVS in Northwest Washington at the end of April, then went back recently for the second only to be placed on a waiting list.
There is good news, though. The vaccine maker, GlaxoSmithKline, recently started shipments again, and the shortage has begun to ease.
The manufacturer blames the problem on extraordinarily high demand. It is not a manufacturing issue, says Sean Clements, a company spokesman. The demand for this vaccine has been unprecedented.
Still, the shortage raises questions for those who may be nervously watching the calendar: What happens if your six months elapse? Must you begin the shots all over again?
Payment questions aside, dont panic: More vaccine is on the way.
Get Help With Medigap Coverage For Shingles
If you get shingles, you could have a long road to recovery and significant out of pocket expenses for doctor bills. A Medigap plan helps by paying the portion of your bill that Medicare doesnt pay.
At MedicareFAQ, we can answer all your questions about Medigap and help you find an affordable plan.
To get started, give us a call at the number above. Or, fill out our form
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Other Types Of Plans Do Better
Other forms of insurance do a far better job covering immunizations.
Under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, private planssuch as insurance through your employer or purchased on a state marketplaceare still required to cover recommended vaccinations as preventive medical care, not drugs.
That means that as long as you go to a provider in your plans network, your insurance will pay for preventive care without a co-pay, even if you havent met your deductible.
Its really a shame that older Americans, who are most at risk of contracting shingles and most vulnerable to the potentially serious effects of the disease, often have to pay more than others for the vaccine, says Consumer Reports medical director, Orly Avitzur, M.D.
If youre currently covered by a private health plan but anticipate going on Medicare in the next five years or so, one cost-saving strategy is to talk to your doctor about updating all your vaccinations now while your insurance provides good coverage, Avitzur says. The shingles shot is recommended for nearly all adults aged 60 and older.
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How Much Does The Shingles Vaccine Cost With Medicare
Most people who are enrolled in Medicare Part D pay less than $50 per dose for Shingrix, according to the vaccine’s manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline. However, your costs will vary based on the plan’s details and if you’ve already met your deductible amount by purchasing other prescription drugs.
For example, some seniors can get the shingles vaccine for free because it’s fully covered by their Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan. Others may have to pay a portion of the cost, such as a $50 copay per shot, or pay full price if the deductible hasn’t been met.
If you don’t have a prescription drug plan or you haven’t met your plan’s deductible, the retail cost for the shingles vaccine is $162 per shot. For the two-dose sequence, the total cost is $324. If the full price of the shingles vaccine is out of your budget, there are several ways you can save money on the vaccine.
Prescription Drug Coverage And Shingles Treatment
Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs such as famciclovir, valacyclovir, and acyclovir. These drugs can help the rash heal more quickly and reduce the chance youll suffer serious side effects. If your pain is severe, your doctor may also write you a prescription for pain medications.
Medicare prescription plans typically cover both antiviral and pain medications, though the specifics will depend on your plan. You may have to pay a deductible or copay.
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Your doctor may also suggest over-the-counter remedies such as lidocaine patches and Tylenol. Prescription plans dont cover over-the-counter medications, even if your doctor recommends them.
Do I Have To Make An Appointment
The COVID-19 vaccine requires making an appointment ahead of time at CVS.com. Most other vaccines are available on a walk-in basis. Same-day appointments are often available online. You can also answer the vaccine-specific questionnaire online instead of filling it out in person.
You may want to call ahead to your local CVS Pharmacy and make sure your desired vaccine is in stock. You can also check to see if theres a wait at the store or clinic.
Cvs Walgreens Offer New Shingles Vaccine Called Shingrix
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Major pharmacy chains have raced to make a new shingles vaccine available nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added Shingrix to its recommended vaccinations list in January. CVS said GlaxoSmithKlines vaccine is now available in all 9,800 of its stores. Its also for sale at 8,400 Walgreens and Duane Reade locations, their parent company says.
Shingles is a painful, blistery rash. It can last two to four weeks and cause nerve pain lasting months longer. Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles later in life. About 99 percent of Americans 40 and older carry the chickenpox virus.
Their risk for shingles increase as they age.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Shingrix in October. It is only approved for adults 50 and older. The drug is almost twice as effective as the older Zostavax vaccine.
Public health professionals believe insurance coverage and widespread availability can increase vaccination rates.
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New Shingles Vaccine Is Now Available
New Shingles Vaccine is now available
Shingles vaccination protects against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , the most common complication from shingles. CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix®, separated by 2 to 6 months, to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease.
Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and PHN. Two doses of Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and PHN. Protection stays above 85% for at least the first four years after you get vaccinated. Shingrix is the preferred vaccine, over Zostavax®, a shingles vaccine in use since 2006.
You should get Shingrix even if in the past you
- are not sure if you had chickenpox
There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.
If you had shingles in the past, you can get Shingrix to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time that you need to wait after having shingles before you can receive Shingrix, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has gone away before getting vaccinated.
If you had Zostavax in the recent past, you should wait at least eight weeks before getting Shingrix. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best time to get Shingrix.
Shingrix is available in doctors offices and pharmacies. If you have questions about Shingrix, talk with your healthcare provider.
How can I Pay For Shingrix?
How To Get A Shingrix Discount Without Medicare
There are a few different ways to receive a discount on the Shingrix vaccine. SingleCares prescription discount card provides instant savings on many prescription drugs, including Shingrix. Medicare recipients cannot use SingleCare and Medicare coverage together, but they can choose to use whichever offers a better deal for them. For those who dont have a Medicare plan that covers Shingrix, SingleCare can provide a discount.
GSK, the manufacturer of Shingrix, offers apatient assistance program for those who dont have insurance coverage. However, there are income guidelines and other eligibility requirements in order to qualify. Those who are enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan may still be eligible for the program if their income falls below a certain threshold and theyve spent at least $600 on prescription medications through their plan during the current calendar year.
Lastly, you may qualify for financial assistance through a Medicare program called Extra Help. Extra Help can help Part D consumers lower their Medicare-related costs.
Also Check: Can Shingrix Give You Shingles
What Are The Complications Of Shingles
The most common and lasting complication of shingles is nerve pain, whats called postherpetic neuralgia , which can last for months or even years, long after the rash has cleared up. According to the CDC, between 10% and 18% of people whove had shingles will develop PHN.
PHN is a stabbing or throbbing pain or weakness where the shingles rash had been. The risk increases with age and the pain lasts longer and is more severe than in younger people.8
In rare cases, shingles can develop into pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness and brain inflammation.9 Only 1% to 4% of people with shingles are hospitalized for complications, though these are typically older adults and people whose immune systems are weak or suppressed, and fewer than 100 people die from shingles each year.10
What Vaccines Does Medicare Part B Cover
Medicare Part B generally covers vaccines for:
One flu shot per flu season. You pay generally nothing if the provider accepts assignment for giving the shot.
People at medium to high risk for Hepatitis B are covered. People at low risk may not be covered. You generally pay nothing if the provider accepts assignment for giving the shot.
- Pneumococcal to prevent pneumonia
All people with Medicare Part B are covered. You generally pay nothing if your provider accepts assignment for giving the shot.
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What Parts Of Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine
- Medicare Part C. Medicare Advantage is a plan you can buy through a private insurance company. It may offer additional benefits not covered by original Medicare, including some preventive services. Many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, which would cover the shingles vaccine.
- Medicare Part D. This is the prescription drug coverage portion of Medicare and typically covers commercially available vaccines. Medicare requires Part D plans to cover the shingles shot, but the amount it covers can be very different from plan to plan.
Making Sure Youre covered
There are a few steps you can take to make sure your shingles vaccine is covered if you have Medicare Advantage with drug coverage or Medicare Part D:
- If your doctor cant bill your plan directly, ask your doctor to coordinate with an in-network pharmacy. The pharmacy might be able to give you the vaccine and bill your plan directly.
- File your vaccine bill for reimbursement with your plan if you cant do either of the options above.
If you have to file for reimbursement, youll have to pay the full price of the shot when you get it. Your plan should reimburse you, but the amount covered will vary based on your plan and if the pharmacy was in your network.
How Much Do Vaccines Cost At Minuteclinic
MinuteClinic is a walk-in clinic that provides health screenings, treatment for common illnesses, and vaccinations for children, teens, and adults. Its located inside more than 1,100 CVS Pharmacy and Target locations in 33 states and Washington, D.C.
At MinuteClinic, the rules are a little different than at CVS Pharmacy. First, MinuteClinic doesnt offer COVID-19 vaccines. Many clinics still accept walk-ins, but some require appointments during the pandemic.
Lastly, unlike CVS Pharmacy, where pharmacists give shots, MinuteClinic is staffed by medical providers. That means a nurse practitioner or physician assistant will deliver your immunization instead of a pharmacist.
MinuteClinic accepts most insurance plans and lists its prices on its website. The prices represent the fee for a vaccine only. If you end up discussing other healthcare concerns during your vaccine appointment, you also may be charged for a separate medical visit.
Here are MinuteClinic cash prices for some of the most commonly requested vaccines, including:
|Commonly requested vaccines|
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How To Save Money On Vaccines
If youre uninsured or having trouble paying for your vaccines, talk to your CVS pharmacist.
GoodRx offers discounts on vaccines as well as medications. You can print or show the CVS pharmacist a GoodRx coupon. For the shingles vaccine Shingrix, for example, you can save as much as 22% off the average retail price. Another GoodRx coupon can help save as much as 36% off a Tdap vaccine.
Why Is The Shingles Vaccine Recommended
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of Shingrix two to six months apart to prevent shingles and complications from the disease. The vaccine is typically administered to adults who are 50 years and older. There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.
It is also given to those who have received a live zoster vaccine in the past.
The studies report that two doses of Shingrix will be more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles and its complication called postherpetic neuralgia.
The vaccine protects you at least 85 percent of the time for the first four years after vaccination.
You should get Shingrix even if you have a history as follows:
- Already had shingles
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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
- 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.
You Can Get A Shingles Vaccine Two Ways:
At the pharmacy. Youll still need a doctors prescription, but once thats been transmitted, you can get the shot at a retail pharmacy.
Most major chains and some independent pharmacies can administer the vaccine. Just make sure to use a store in your drug plans network so that it can bill your plan directly and youll owe just the copayment.
At the doctors office. If youre vaccinated in a doctors office, check whether it can bill your drug plan directly or works with a pharmacy that can do so. If so, it will work as mentioned above, with you owing a copayment. If not, you may need to pay the full cost up front and then file a claim for reimbursement from your plan.
Remember that the doctors fee for administering the vaccine may exceed your plans allowable charge, in which you case youre on the hook for the difference. It pays to check beforehand.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Jan. 1, 2014. It has been updated with the latest information regarding Medicare coverage in 2020.
Also Check: What Are Symptoms Of Shingles Virus
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 The Shingrix Vaccine
Shingrix is the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationapproved vaccine aimed to prevent shingles infection in individuals older than 50 years and adults aged 18 years and older who are or who will be at increased risk of shingles due to a disease or therapy that can compromise the immunity.
- A particular complication of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia , which persists for months after the infection subsides.
- It is characterized by extreme pain at the former site of rash and lesions.
- This pain may or may not respond to strong medications hence, a vaccine against shingles is required.
The Shingrix vaccine works by exposing the body to small doses of the inactive herpes virus. This stimulates the bodys immune system and helps the body to develop an immunity to herpes zoster or shingles.
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