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.
What Are The Advantages Of Getting The Shingles Vaccine
The shingles vaccine reduces your risk of getting shingles. Shingles causes a painful rash that usually develops on one side of your body or face. Some people describe the pain as an intense burning or shooting sensation. The rash is often a single strip that wraps around one side of your body or is on one side of your face. It consists of blisters that normally crust over in seven to 10 days. The rash generally clears up within a month.
For some people, the pain from the rash can last for months or even years after the rash goes away. This long-term pain is called postherpetic neuralgia , and it is the most common complication of shingles.
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Does Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine
En español | Unlike some common vaccines, like those for the flu, hepatitis B and pneumonia, shingles shots are not covered under Medicare Part B, the component of original Medicare that includes doctor visits and outpatient services. Part A, which deals with hospital costs, doesnt cover shingles shots either.
Medicare coverage for Shingrix and Zostavax, the two commercially available shingles vaccines, is provided only if you are enrolled in a stand-alone Part D drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D drug coverage.
Medicare requires Part D plans to cover the shingles vaccine, so if youre enrolled in Part D, you shouldnt have difficulty obtaining the shot. Most require a copayment, which can vary widely from plan to plan.
And if you havent yet met your plans deductible for the year, youll likely pay the full price. For Shingrix, the newer vaccine, that averages around $190, according to GoodRx, a website and app that tracks prescription prices.
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Know Your Shingles Risk
You can get shingles at any age if youve had chickenpox.
But older adults and those who are immunocompromised get it most often. Two-thirds of shingles cases in Canada happen to people over 50 years old. The severity of shingles and its complications also increase with age.
Age is the most important risk factor.
How Do We Know The Vaccine Is Safe
All medicines are tested for safety and effectiveness by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency . The shingles vaccine meets the high safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries. The vaccine has been given to millions of people worldwide.
Once they’re in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the MHRA.
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.
How Long Does Shingrix Last
The Shingrix vaccine can remain effective for at least four years in most people and even longer in others. You must get the entire series to be protected against shingles, which includes two separate shots. Even if you have had the infection, getting vaccinated can still offer benefits because it may help reduce the risk of developing PHN.
Shingrix may not protect everyone, but it provides broader protection for older adults whose immune systems are declining with age or disease.
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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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What Are My Options For The Shingles Shot And How Does It Work
As of November, 2020, there is only one shingles vaccine available in the United States. This goes by the trade name Shingrix.
Shingrix was approved by the FDA in . It is more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia after two doses of the vaccine.
An earlier vaccine, Zostavax, is no longer in use in the United States as of November 18, 2020. Zostavax first got FDA approval in 2006. It was about 51 percent effective at preventing shingles and 67 percent effective at preventing PHN.
Why Is The Shingles Vaccine Important
Shingles causes a painful rash and blisters and it can lead to serious complications. The most common complication is post-herpetic neuralgia , a condition that causes burning pain that can last long after the shingles rash and blisters go away. The older you are when you get shingles, the more likely you are to develop PHN.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent shingles and PHN.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox, the chickenpox virus stays dormant in your body. The virus can activate years later and cause shingles.
Symptoms of shingles include:
Shingles cant spread from person to person like chickenpox. But if you have shingles, you can spread the virus to someone who isnt immune to chickenpox meaning someone who hasnt had chickenpox and isnt vaccinated against it. If that happened, the person might get chickenpox but not shingles. Learn more about shingles.
- Adults age 50 and older
- Adults 19 years and older who have a weakened immune system because of disease or treatments
You need to get 2 doses of Shingrix. Youll need the second dose 2 to 6 months after the first dose. You need to get Shingrix even if you:
- Have already had shingles
- Have been vaccinated against shingles with Zostavax
- Are not sure if youve had chickenpox
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Available Vaccines And Vaccination Campaigns
Since 2008, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended most Americans aged 60 and older get the shingles vaccine. A newer recommendation was issued in 2018 with the licensure of a new vaccine: .
In adults 50-69 years old, Shingrix reduces the risk of shingles by more than 96%. For those 70 and older, the vaccine is 91.3% effective at preventing shingles. It similarly reduces the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia. Modeling studies project that protection will wane to 0 by 19 years after immunization. Study of the expected duration of protection is ongoing.
The antigen in Shingrix is a surface protein of the varicella zoster virus produced by culturing genetically engineered Chinese hamster ovary cells. Vaccination consists of two doses of vaccine, given at months 0 and 2-6.
The older shingles vaccine is a live, attenuated vaccine. It was licensed in 2006. The generic name of the vaccine is Zoster Vaccine, Live . It is still available, although Shingrix is recommended over Zostavax because of its superior effectiveness and duration of protection.
People who have previously been vaccinated with Zostavax are recommended to vaccinate with Shingrix.
Most Medicare drug plans cover the cost of the shingle vaccine and its administration, minus any copayments, for people 65 and older. Most private insurance plans provide coverage for the vaccination for people 50 and older.
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What Is The Brand Name Of The Shingles Vaccine
There are 2 shingles vaccines used in the UK:
- Zostavax, a live vaccine given as 1 dose
- Shingrix, a non-live vaccine given as 2 doses, 2 months apart
Most people will have the Zostavax vaccine. The Shingrix vaccine is recommended if Zostavax is not suitable for you, for example if you have a condition that affects your immune system.
You can read more about the shingles vaccines in the patient information leaflets:
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Make A Plan To Get 2 Doses
- You can get Shingrix at your doctors office or pharmacy. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about getting Shingrix.
- Plan to get your second dose of Shingrix 2 to 6 months after your first dose.
Five years later, I still take prescription medication for pain. My shingles rash quickly developed into open, oozing sores that in only a few days required me to be hospitalized. I could not eat, sleep, or perform even the most minor tasks. It was totally debilitating. The pain still limits my activity levels to this day.
A 63-year-old harpist who was unable to continue playing due to shingles
Who Should Not Get The Shingles Vaccine
The vaccine may not be appropriate for people who have a weakened immune system due to certain conditions. These people include those with an organ transplant and those who are undergoing chemotherapy to treat cancer.
Doctors also recommend that people with an allergy to any component of the vaccine do not have the shingles vaccination.
Anyone with severe allergies must tell a doctor about them when discussing their shingles risk. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding or currently have shingles symptoms should not get the shot.
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What Are The Possible Reactions After The Vaccine
The shingles vaccines are very safe. Common reactions to the vaccines include headache as well as soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. Itching and a rash may also occur after getting ZostavaxÂ® II. Other reactions that may occur after getting ShingrixÂ® include fever, muscle soreness, fatigue, shivering, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
It is important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because there is an extremely rare possibility, less than 1 in a million, of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue or lips. Should this reaction occur, your health care provider is prepared to treat it. Emergency treatment includes administration of epinephrine and transfer by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. If symptoms develop after you leave the clinic, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
It is important to always report serious or unexpected reactions to your health care provider.
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Don’t Overpay: Advice For Medicare Patients
Three out of four Americans eligible for the shingles vaccination still havent gotten it, according to the CDC. Not surprisingly, a 2015 report from the National Vaccine Program found that one of the main reasons adults skip recommended vaccines is the cost.
If youve been putting off getting your shingles shot because you were quoted a high price, check your Part D plan. You may be able to get it for less.
Confusion about insurance coverage for the vaccine can sometimes result in patients paying more than they should, Avitzur says.
Dont delay, as the consequences of shingles can be devastating, advises Avitzur, a neurologist who has seen firsthand the painful effects of lingering nerve damage.
Your best bet may be to get the shot at a pharmacy in your drug plans network. Youll still need to get a prescription from your doctor, but the pharmacy will bill your insurance company and youll pay the lowest out-of-pocket costs available under your plan.
If you would like to get vaccinated at your doctors office, ask up front about the cost. Does your doctor charge more to administer the shot than your plan allows? If so, youll be on the hook for the difference. Also see whether the office will bill your Part D or Medicare Advantage plan directly or work with a pharmacy in your network to handle the billing.
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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.
Cdc Shingles Vaccine Recommendations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Shingrix vaccination for everyone 50 years and older and those 19 years and older who have weakened immune systemseven if you have already had shingles, if you had another type of shingles vaccine, and if you dont know whether or not youve had chickenpox in the past.
You should not get the vaccine if you have a severe allergy to any of the components, currently have shingles, or you have lab tests that definitively show that you do not have antibodies against the varicella-zoster virus. In that case, you may be better off getting the varicella vaccine instead. Also, those who are pregnant should consider delaying vaccination with Shingrix until after delivery.
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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.
Administering And Storing Shingrix
- Adults 50 years and older should receive 2 doses of Shingrix. Give the second dose 2 to 6 months after the first.
- Administer Shingrix intramuscularly in the deltoid region of the upper arm with a 1- to 1.5-inch needle.
- Both vials of Shingrix must be refrigerated at a temperature of 36-46° F. Do not use if exposed to temperatures below 36° F.
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About The Shingles Vaccine
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.
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.
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