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Who Can Get The Shingles Shot For Free

What Are My Options For The Shingles Shot And How Does It Work

Your Best Shot Shingles Vaccines

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.

How Is Shingles Diagnosed

A doctor will examine the rash on your skin and ask you about your symptoms. This is usually how healthcare professionals diagnose shingles.

A healthcare professional may remove some fluid from a blister for testing, but typically this is not necessary.


  • two doses of chickenpox vaccine regardless of age
  • two doses of Shingrix for adults over age 50 and adults with weakened immune systems

According to the , you should get the vaccine even if, in the past, you:

  • received Zostavax, another vaccine that is no longer on the market
  • received the varicella vaccine

Creating and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits such as stress management, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and getting plenty of sleep can also help prevent or lessen flare-ups.

Can Pregnant Women Get The Shingles Vaccine

If you have never had chickenpox and intend on becoming pregnant, you should consult your doctor about getting the vaccine at least three months before trying to conceive. This vaccine is not considered safe to administer during pregnancy, so if you havent had it before your pregnancy, youll have to wait until afterward to consider getting it.

Some people get a vaccine against VZV when theyre older to reduce the risk of shingles. This shingles vaccine is somewhat different from the chickenpox vaccine given to children and younger adults, even though it works against the same virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the shingles vaccine for everyone over 50 years. However, its not recommended for pregnant women.

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Shingles And Pregnancy Concerns

Catching chickenpox during pregnancy can be very dangerous. A baby born to a mother who had chickenpox during the first half of her pregnancy is more likely to be born with low birth weight and congenital disorders involving the brain, eye, limb, and skin.

This is known as congenital varicella syndrome.

When a mother catches chickenpox between 13 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, theres about a 2% chance that the baby will have congenital varicella. Babies whose mothers were infected earlier in the pregnancy also have a risk of this condition.³

If youve never had chickenpox and have not been vaccinated against it, you must avoid exposure to it during pregnancy.

If you previously had chickenpox before your pregnancy or have received the vaccine, you and your unborn baby are safe since you cannot contract it again. If youre unsure whether you had this disease in childhood, your doctor can do a blood test to look for antibodies against VZV.

If youve had chickenpox before, you can get shingles while pregnant. Luckily, your unborn child is still safe if you get shingles.

If you are expectant and notice any skin rashes on your body, you should inform your doctor immediately. It could be chickenpox or shingles, and other possibilities could cause serious problems for you or your unborn child. Thus, its important to get a proper medical evaluation.

Medicare Part D Plans

Shingles Vaccination

While Medicare Part D provides coverage for the Shingrix vaccination, there may be an out-of-pocket cost. This will vary based on the specific Medicare plan, however. This may include a copay for the shingles vaccine or the beneficiary paying the full cost and getting reimbursed for a certain amount. Eligible individuals should receive Shingrix at a doctors office within the drug plans network or at an in-network pharmacy.

Read Also: Where Can I Get The New Shingles Vaccine

How Well Does The Vaccine Work

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 wont be as painful or last as long.
  • You may need another vaccine later in life.

You shouldnt 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.

Also Check: What Can I Take For Shingles Nerve Pain

National Shingles Vaccination Program

One in three people will develop shingles in their lifetime, with the risk of complications increasing with age. Herpes zoster vaccination is recommended and has been funded from 1 November 2016 for eligible people under theNational Immunisation Program. Shingles immunisation can significantly reduce the risk of developing shingles and the associated ongoing persistent pain known as postherpetic neuralgia .

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What Are The Benefits Of The Shingles Vaccine

The shingles vaccines are the best way to protect you from getting shingles. The vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of getting shingles by 50% for Zostavax® II, and to more than 90% for Shingrix®.

For those who still get shingles after being immunized, the vaccines can reduce pain, including the type of pain that lasts after shingles.

You Can Get A Shingles Vaccine Two Ways:

Every American over 50 needs to get a new shingles vaccine

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.

Editors note: This article was originally published on Jan. 1, 2014. It has been updated with the latest information regarding Medicare coverage in 2020.

Read Also: Side Effects Of Second Shingles

How Effective Is The Vaccine

The vaccine will reduce your chances of developing shingles by more than a third. If you do go on to have shingles, having the vaccine can make the symptoms milder.

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 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.

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Medicare Coverage For Shingles Vaccine

Shingrix is not the first shingles vaccine, but it is the only one currently on the market in the United States.Instead of using a live virus,the vaccine uses a protein from the virus to trigger an immune response. It is administered in two doses two to six months apart.

This shingles vaccine has been shown to decrease the risk for shingles by 97% for people between 50 and 69 years old and by 91% for people 70 and older. It reduces complications as well. The risk for post-herpetic neuralgia goes down by 91% and 89%, respectively, in those age groups.

Because the vaccine works well, it is important to know if and when Medicare covers it.

How Does Your Medicare Deductible Affect Your Vaccine Costs

Can Shingles Shot Give You Shingles

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.

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Simultaneous Administration With Other Vaccines

RZV and LZV may be administered concomitantly with other live vaccines given by the parenteral, oral, or intranasal routes. For concomitant parenteral injections, different injection sites and separate needles and syringes should be used.

In general, inactivated vaccines including RZV may be administered concomitantly with, or at any time before or after, other inactivated vaccines or live vaccines protecting against a different disease.

LZV may be given at any time before or after live oral or intranasal vaccines. If two live parenteral vaccines are not administered concomitantly, there should be a period of at least 4 weeks before the second live parenteral vaccine is given.

Concomitant administration of pneumococcal 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine and LZV has not resulted in decreased efficacy and so the two vaccines can be given concomitantly.

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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.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles

The most common symptoms are pain, itching or tingling of the skin. This is followed by a painful rash with blisters. The rash is usually only on a small area on one side of the body. Other early symptoms can include headache, fever, chills and nausea. The rash from shingles usually lasts two to four weeks.

What Shingles And Chickenpox Symptoms Should I Watch Out For

Who should get the shingles vaccine, SHINGRIX?

Some common symptoms of shingles or chickenpox include:

  • An itchy or inflamed rash on the body

  • A tingling or burning sensation, which often begins before the appearance of the rash

  • Difficulty urinating

In both shingles and chickenpox, the rash generally begins as reddish bumps that are painful and tingly. After a few days, the bumps develop into fluid-filled blisters, which scab over in 710 days. The rashes will eventually heal and disappear within 24 weeks. There may be temporary discoloration on the infected areas after the rashes disappear.

Additionally, nerve pain may linger at the rash’s site, a condition called postherpetic neuralgia. This condition affects about one in five individuals who get shingles. Most people see total relief from the pain four months after the rash initially appears.

As long as the rash is visible and the blisters have not scabbed over, it is a sign that the disease is highly contagious.

Recommended Reading: When Do You Get The Second Shingles Shot

Who Is Eligible For The Vaccine

People aged 70 years of age are eligible for the vaccine.

The vaccine is also available for those previously eligible but who missed immunisation. For example, anyone in their 70s who has not yet had the vaccine.

You become eligible for the shingles vaccine as you turn 70 and remain eligible up to the age of 79.

People under 70 years of age are at lower risk of shingles but will become eligible for the vaccine when they turn 70. People aged 80 years and over are not eligible for the shingles vaccination because the vaccine becomes less effective as people get older. If you are worried about shingles speak to your GP.

How To Get Free Or Low

Key takeaways:

  • For free or low-cost adult vaccines, start with your local health department or community health center.

  • You can also get free or discounted vaccines through vaccine makers patient assistance programs.

  • If you go to a pharmacy, comparison-shop first to find the lowest prices in your area.

Making sure your vaccinations and booster shots are up to date is one of the easiest ways to safeguard your health. But getting shots can be expensive, especially if you dont have insurance.

Here are some tips on how to find affordable adult vaccines, even if you dont have insurance.

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Does Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine Will I Have To Pay For The Shot

The CDC recommends people 50 years and older get the shingles vaccine. The shot is widely available and the cost may be covered if you have Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D. Depending on your plan, you may have to cover a deductible, co-pay, or pay for the shot out of pocket and get reimbursement.

Shingles can cause serious complications, like painful long-term nerve damage. To stay safe from such complications, you may want to consider the new shingles vaccine . An older vaccine once widely administered in the U.S. was less effective and is no longer on the market.

Shingles And Pregnancy Precautions

Peaceful Mountain Shingles Rescue Plus Homeopathic Gel

Although VZV is highly contagious, the chances it will affect your unborn child are, fortunately, small. Even if you get it while pregnant, theres only about a 2% chance your child will be affected. Still, the effects can be very severe if this does occur.

In addition, the pain and discomfort are likely to make your pregnancy more challenging. So, if you are wondering, ‘should a pregnant woman avoid someone with shingles,’ the answer is yes. People who have never had chickenpox, including pregnant women as children, should avoid contact with infected persons.

If you get shingles while pregnant, theres generally no risk to your baby. The risk only occurs if you get infected with chickenpox for the first time during pregnancy.

Read Also: What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles

Where To Get Vaccinated

You have a choice on where to get vaccinated.

In your doctors office: You can get vaccinated in your doctors office. If the office is set up to bill Part D directly for your vaccination, you may only have to pay a copay at the time of your shingles shot. If not, you may have to pay all costs upfront and submit a claim to your Part D plan for reimbursement.

At your local pharmacy: You can go to your local pharmacy to get your shingles shot as long as they offer the vaccine and appropriately trained staff members administer it. The rules for pharmacy vaccination vary by state. You will likely need to pay for the vaccination upfront. Pharmacies are not legally required to dispense medications without payment.

Routine Vaccination Of People 60 Years Old And Older

CDC recommends a single dose of Zostavax® for people 60 years old or older, whether or not the person reported a prior episode of herpes zoster . People with chronic medical conditions may be vaccinated unless a contraindication or precaution exists for their condition. Zostavax is a live virus vaccine. It can be administered concurrently with all other live and inactivated vaccines, including those routinely recommended for people 60 years old and older, such as influenza and pneumococcal vaccines.

When vaccinating people 60 years old or older, there is no need to screen for a history of varicella infection or to conduct laboratory testing for serologic evidence of prior varicella infection. Even if a person reports that they have not had varicella, they can still receive the herpes zoster vaccine. The Zostavax®zoster vaccine package insert makes no reference to varicella history, and almost all people 60 years old or older are immune to varicella. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices states that people born in the United States prior to 1980 are considered immune to varicella. If serologic evidence of varicella susceptibility becomes available to the healthcare provider, the patient should be offered varicella vaccine not herpes zoster vaccine.

The general guideline for any vaccine is to wait until the acute stage of the illness is over and symptoms abate.

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