Saturday, February 17, 2024

How To Get A Free Shingles Shot

How Well Does The Vaccine Work

New CDC guidelines for shingles and pneumonia vaccines

The vaccine lowers your chances of getting shingles.

If you get the vaccine and still get shingles, you are likely to have much less pain and for a much shorter time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two doses of the shingles vaccine for adults ages 50 and older and for adults 19 and older who have a weakened immune system.footnote 1

  • Redness, swelling, or soreness at the spot where the needle went in.
  • A high fever or serious allergic reaction .

Getting the vaccine has some risks. For example:

  • You might get shingles anyway. But it probably won’t be as painful or last as long.
  • You may need another vaccine later in life.

You shouldn’t get the vaccine if:

  • You are ill with more than a mild cold or you have had an allergic reaction to the first dose.
  • You have a test that says you have never had chickenpox.
  • You have shingles.
  • You are age 50 or older.
  • You are 19 or older and have a weakened immune system.
  • You have had shingles before.
  • You have a chronic condition, such as chronic kidney failure, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or COPD.
  • You live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility.
  • The vaccine can lower your chances of getting shingles.
  • If you get the vaccine and still get shingles, you are likely to have less pain for a shorter time.

If Youre 50 Or Older Get Shingrix

  • Shingrix provides strong protection from shingles and long-term nerve pain.
  • Get Shingrix even if you already had shingles, because you can get the disease more than once.
  • Your risk of shingles and complications increases as you age.
  • You need 2 doses of Shingrix. Get the second dose 2 to 6 months after you get the first dose.

Where In The Body The Vaccination Is Given And How Many You Will Need

Like most vaccinations, the vaccine will be given in your upper arm. You will only have the vaccination once.

If you have the Zostavax vaccine, you will just need one injection. If you are not eligible for the live vaccine, you will need 2 doses of the Shingrix vaccine 2 months apart to give you the best protection. Once your course is completed, you will not need any more shingles vaccines.

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How Many Doses Of The Vaccine Do I Need

In most cases, the shingles vaccine is given as one dose.

If you have a severely weakened immune system you will be offered a second dose of the vaccine at least 8 weeks after your first dose.

Speak to a healthcare professional about getting other vaccines at the same time so they can advise what’s best for your individual circumstances.

You should ideally wait seven days between the coronavirus vaccination and shingles vaccination.

What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Shingrix

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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.

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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.

Know Your Risk Of Getting Shingles And Complications

About 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime.

If youve had chickenpox, you are at risk for shingles. More than 99% of Americans born before 1980 have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember it.

Your risk of getting shingles and having serious complications increases as you get older.

About 1 in 10 people who get shingles develop nerve pain that lasts for months or years after the rash goes away. This is called postherpetic neuralgia and is the most common complication of shingles.

Shingles may lead to other serious complications involving the eye, including blindness. Very rarely, it can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, brain inflammation or death.

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Are There Any Reasons I Shouldn’t Have The Shingles Vaccine

You shouldn’t have the shingles vaccine if:

  • you’ve had a severe reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine
  • you’ve had a severe reaction to a previous dose of the chickenpox vaccine

If you don’t have a severely weakened immune system, the shingles vaccine you’ll be offered contains a small trace of pork gelatine.

Gelatine is a common and essential ingredient in many medicines, including some vaccines.

Many faith groups, including Muslim and Jewish communities, have approved the use of gelatine-containing vaccines. It is, however, an individual choice whether or not to receive the shingles vaccine.

What Is The Shingrix Vaccine

Every American over 50 needs to get a new shingles 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.

The Herpes Zoster virus is the same virus that causes chickenpox in children. The virus may remain dormant in the persons nerve roots and become active when the immunity wanes .

The reactivated virus causes shingles or Herpes Zoster, a painful condition characterized by painful red blisters over the body, rash, and/or fever.

  • 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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Key Points To Remember

  • Shingles can be very painful.
  • Adults ages 50 and older and adults 19 and older who have a weakened immune system can get the vaccine. You need two doses, whether or not you’ve had shingles before.
  • The vaccine greatly lowers your chances of getting shingles. If you get shingles anyway, you are less likely to have the long-term pain that can occur after shingles than if you hadn’t had the vaccine.
  • If you’ve already had shingles, you are not likely to get it again. But some people do.

What Parts Of Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine

According to Medicare.gov, a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan should cover all preventive vaccines, including the shingles shot. Medicare Advantage plans are typically a bundle of Medicare Part A, Part B, and Part D. As long as your Advantage plan contains Part D, you should have coverage for the shingles shot. Some people call this plan Medicare Advantage with drug coverage.

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What Matters Most To You

Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.

Reasons to get a shingles vaccine

Reasons not to get a vaccine

I want to lower my chances of getting shingles.

I would rather take my chances without getting a vaccine.

I’m afraid of the pain that shingles can cause.

I’m not afraid of shingles pain.

Getting shots doesn’t bother me.

I don’t like getting shots.

Can I Get Free Or Discounted Vaccines Through Drug Company Patient Assistance Programs

Shingles vaccine good for seniors and health

Vaccine manufacturers offer financial assistance for a wide variety of vaccines. You may qualify for low-cost or even free vaccines through the makers patient assistance program.

Heres a chart listing some of the leading vaccine makers, their patient assistance websites, and the names of the vaccines they make to help you check eligibility guidelines:

Manufacturer
  • Prevnar 13 and Prevnar 20

You can also use the Medicine Assistance Tool online to find out which assistance programs you qualify for and how to contact them. This tool lets you search for public and private programs that can help pay for medications, including vaccines. Just enter the name of the vaccine and answer a few eligibility questions. Then the search engine will tell you which programs you may qualify for and how to reach them.

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Vaccine Effectiveness And Safety

The vaccine reduces your chance of getting the virus by more than 50%, depending on your age. Vaccine effectiveness is higher among seniors between 65 and 70 years old.

No vaccine is 100% effective. If you get vaccinated, you may still develop shingles. But the infection would likely be less severe and youd be better protected from complications.

The vaccine has been licenced by Health Canada, having met all requirements under the Food and Drugs Act.

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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

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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.

Is The Shingles Shot Covered By Medicare

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Original Medicare does not pay for the shingles vaccine. However, if youre enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan or have a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage, your shot may be covered. For vaccines covered under Part D , it is not recommended to get the shot through your providers office, as you may have issues with Part D billing.*

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How Can I Get The Shingles Vaccine

You can buy the shingles vaccine at most pharmacies and travel clinics. Shingrix® is given as a series of 2 doses, 2 to 6 months apart, and costs about $150/dose. Zostavax® II is given as 1 dose and costs about $200. Some health insurance plans may cover the cost of the vaccine check with your provider.

If you buy the vaccine at a travel clinic, a doctor or nurse on site will be able to immunize you. Most pharmacists in B.C. are also able to immunize.

If you want to be immunized by your doctor, find out if they have a supply of the shingles vaccine.

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When Should You Get Immunised Against Shingles

Anyone aged 60 years and over who wants to protect themselves against shingles can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.

Shingles immunisation is recommended for:

  • adults aged 60 years and over who have not previously received zoster vaccine
  • adults aged 70 years to 79 years, for free under the National Immunisation Program
  • adults aged 50 or over who live in the same household as someone who has a weakened immune system.

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Is There Anyone Who Should Not Have The Shingles Vaccination

There are 2 shingles vaccines available in the UK:

  • Zostavax, a live vaccine given as 1 dose
  • Shingrix, a non-live vaccine given as 2 doses

If Zostavax is not suitable for you, a GP or practice nurse will decide whether to offer you Shingrix instead.

You should not have the shingles vaccine if you’ve had a serious allergic reaction in the past to a previous dose of the shingles vaccine, or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, or to a previous dose of varicella vaccine.

If you have a weakened immune system a GP or practice nurse will assess which vaccine is suitable for you. Discuss any health concerns with the GP or practice nurse before you have the vaccine.

Zostavax is not suitable for people who have a weakened immune system due to a condition, treatment or medicine.

Do I Need A Prescription For A Shingles Vaccine

Shingles Vaccination

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

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Does Medicare Cover Shingrix And How Much Does It Cost

Shingrix is covered by Medicare. Your copay, however, will depend on your Medicare plan. Unfortunately, Shingrix can still cost almost $200 with Medicare. Your pharmacist can help you calculate the exact Shingrix price with your particular plan.

If your out-of-pocket expenses with Medicare are still too high, consider using SingleCare to save more on Shingrix. Registration is free and we’ll send you a savings card in the mail that you can use on all of your prescription drugs.

In the meantime, take one of our Shingrix coupons to any of the participating pharmacies, such as CVS Pharmacy, Walmart, or Walgreens, to find out how much you can save on your Shingrix cost today.

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