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Will Insurance Cover Shingles Vaccine

Which Type Should People With Diabetes Get

Shingles Vaccine

There used to be two shingles vaccines available in the United States: Zostavax and Shingrix. As of November 2020, Zostavax is no longer available in the United States. Shingrix, however, is safe and effective. The Shingrix vaccine is given in two doses two to six months apart.

People who previously got the Zostavax vaccine should now get the Shingrix vaccine. Zostavax was much less effective at preventing shingles than Shingrix, and what protection Zostavax gave waned within five years. Talk to a healthcare provider about getting Shingrix if you had Zostavax.

What Are The Side Effects

The shingles vaccines are very safe.

Common side effects 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 Zostavax® II. Other reactions that may occur after getting Shingrix® 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 of anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction. This may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue, or lips. The chance of true anaphylaxis is about 1 in 1 million vaccine doses. 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. Learn more about anaphylaxis on our vaccine side effects page.

It is important to always report serious or unexpected reactions to your health care provider.

Does Medicare Cover Shingles Vaccines In 2022

Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus . It produces a painful rash with fluid-filled blisters and typically shows up on one side of the body. The same virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles. Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past is at risk of getting shingles.

Shingles is a painful rash that occurs along the distribution of a nerve, called a dermatome, says Erum N. Ilyas, MD, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and founder of AmberNoon. The virus lays dormant in the nervous system. Immunity likely plays a role in preventing the virus from reactivating. When immunity is low, the virus replicates and spreads down the nerve causing pain, inflammation, and blistering.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults older than 50 get the shingles vaccine. Shingles can cause long-term nerve pain and nerve damage. Getting two shingles vaccine doses two to six months apart has proven to be very effective at preventing shingles.

Shingrix is a brand-name shingles vaccine and is currently the only shingles vaccine available in the United States. Zostavax, a previous zoster vaccine, wasdiscontinued in 2020.

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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.

What Is Shingles And How Is It Related To Chickenpox

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Shingles is a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus in the body. This virus is responsible for chickenpox. As you age, the risk of developing this painful rash-like condition increases, leading many people to seek preventive immunization from its potentially severe effects.

As far as symptoms go, shingles causes a painful rash that may appear as a strip of blisters on the trunk of the body. The blisters continue to form over three to five days, eventually drying and forming a scab-like layer.

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Whats The Cost Of The Shingles Vaccine

According to GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturer of Shingrix, the two-shot series costs people with Medicare Part D an average of $50 per shot.15

As of October 2021, discount-coupon company GoodRx lists Shingrix at around $160, which is about 23% off its reported average retail price of $206.73.16 It indicates that Medicare plans list Shingrix typically in Tier 3 of their formulary. 17

Ultimately, how much your vaccine costs depends on the Medicare prescription plan or Medicare Advantage plan you choose, the vaccine you get and the pharmacy or doctors office where you have it administered.

If the shingles vaccine cost is unaffordable for you, GlaxoSmithKline has a Patient Assistance Program GSK for You that may be able to help you with the cost.

Does Medicare Part D Cover The Shingles Vaccine

Yes, Medicare Part D is usually able to cover all of the commercially available vaccines, including the shingles vaccine. So, if you are enrolled in Medicare Part D, then you may be covered for it. Its important that you check your Medicare drug plan to learn whether it offers coverage for the shingles shot.

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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

Should You Get Shingrix If You Had The Zostavax Shingles Vaccine

Shingles vaccine is recommended for healthy older adults

It is recommended that you get two doses of Shingrix even if you got a different shingles vaccine in the past. Before Shingrix was approved, the Zostavax shingles vaccine was available. It was discontinued in November 2020 as Shingrix is much more effective. If you had the Zostavax vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider about getting Shingrix.

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Other Things You Should Know

The vaccine seems to work best for people between ages 50 and 69. But anyone 50 and older can get it. Also, the vaccine can be expensive. Be sure to check that your insurance covers it. For those on Medicare, Part D covers it, Part B does not. Medicaid may or may not cover the cost, so check with your plan in advance.

Other things to know include:

  • Side effects of the vaccine can include redness, soreness, swelling or itching at the site of the shot, which may last 2 to 3 days. Because the vaccine activates your immune system, other temporary side effects may include headache, body aches, chills, fever, nausea and fatigue. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help relieve some side effects.
  • The vaccine does not contain any virus. You cannot get chickenpox or shingles from the vaccine.
  • If you already had shingles, the CDC suggests getting the vaccine anyway. Theres a slight risk that shingles may come back.
  • You can receive Shingrix if you are taking low-dose medicine to suppress the immune system, anticipating immunosuppression, or recovering from an immunocompromising condition.

Medicare Part D Coverage

Original Medicare doesnt cover most prescription drugs, but you do have the option of purchasing a Part D plan. These plans are sold by private insurers and offer coverage for a range of prescription drugs.

While there is some variation in Part D plans since they are provided by different private companies, they typically must include coverage for Shingrix.

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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.

How Much Does The Shingles Shot Cost

What You Should Know About the Shingrix Vaccine for Shingles Prevention

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.

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Does Medicare Cover Shingrix

While Original Medicare Medicare Part A and Part B does not cover the cost of the shingles vaccine, or Shingrix , you can purchase private plans Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans that do cover the cost.

It is important to note that even if your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan covers the shingles shot, you may have a copayment or other out-of-pocket costs to pay. Check with your plan for particular details.

Medicare Part D prescription drug plans cover all commercially available vaccinations, except for those already covered under Original Medicare. But these plans will pay only if the vaccinations are considered reasonable and necessary to prevent illness.

Vaccines Covered by Medicare Part D Plans

  • Vaccines related to treatment of an injury or exposure to a disease or condition

What Happens When You Get The Vaccine

As mentioned above, there is one option for the shingles vaccine: Shingrix.

Shingrix, which contains no live virus, is a two-dose vaccine series given in the muscle of the upper arm. The second shot is given two to six months after the first. In clinical trials, it was effective in nearly 97% of adults in their 50s over 97% effective for people in their 60s and over 91% effective for those aged 70 and above. It remains at near 85% effectiveness in all four years following vaccination.18

Shingrix is recommended if youre age 50 or older and have no severe immune problems.19

Effectiveness does come with a cost: In studies, seven in 10 people experienced pain from the Shingrix vaccine, and nearly half have muscle pain or fatigue and some had headaches, shivering, fever and nausea.20 21The CDC suggests avoiding strenuous activities for two to three days after getting either Shingrix shot.

If have previously received Zostavax, you can consider getting Shingrix. The CDC says Shingrix was safe and immunogenic when given five years or later after Zostavax. The agency adds there is no data or theoretical concerns that Shingrix would be any less effective if given sooner. 21

Zostavax was discontinued in 2020 by Merck and is no longer available in the United States.

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How Does Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine

Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, does not cover the shingles vaccination but Medicare Part D does. To get this covered, you must enroll in either a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage . You may have a copayment for the shingles vaccine.

Is Shingrix Covered By My Medicare Health Plan

Shingles Vaccine Info

Yes and no. Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B do not cover the shingles vaccine.

Coverage, however, may be available through your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan.

Medicare Part D is the portion of Medicare covering prescription drugs and typically also covers commercially available vaccines, at varying amounts.

If you havent met your plans deductible for the year, you may have to pay full price.

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Why Do You Need The Shingles Vaccine

In a word: pain. Shingles commonly appears as a rash, usually across one side of your chest, abdomen or face. What starts as itching or tingling becomes an extremely painful band of blisters. These usually scab over in seven to 10 days and clear up in two to four weeks.4

Shingles is most common among people over the age of 50, so the Centers for Disease Controls recommends the vaccine for anyone over that age.

People with a weak immune system are at even higher risk. Your immunity may be weakened if you:5

  • Are under extreme stress.

Shingles must be active, meaning in the blister phase, to be contagious. You cannot transmit the virus before the blisters appear, nor once they crust over.6 Even if the virus is active, the risk of spreading VZV is low if you keep the shingles rash covered.7

Private Insurance Vaccine Coverage

All Health Insurance Marketplaceexternal icon plans and most other private insurance plans must cover the following list of vaccines without charging a copayment or coinsurance when provided by an in-network provider. This is true even for patients who have not met a yearly deductible. Doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations for these vaccines vary:

A new recommendation for serogroup B meningococcal vaccination of those age 16 through 23 years was published in the MMWR dated October 23, 2015. Health plans are required to cover new vaccine recommendations without cost-sharing in the next plan year that occurs one year after this date. Patients should check with their insurance provider for details on whether there is any cost to them for this vaccine.

  • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis

Check with your patients insurance provider for details of coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans that cover children now allow parents to add or keep adult children on their health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old.

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How Does Your Medicare Deductible Affect Your Vaccine Costs

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.

What Are The Side Effects Of Shingrix

New Shingles Vaccine Approved

The most common side effects include pain and inflammation at the injection site, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, stomach discomfort, fever, and shivering, according to GSK.

Allergic reactions are less common but still possible. Watch for signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives, swelling of the face or throat, trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. This is considered an emergency, so call 911.

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Is The Shingles Shot Covered By Medicare

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.*

Some Vaccines Covered Better Than Others

Unlike the flu and pneumonia vaccines, which are fully covered as preventive services under Medicare Part B, the shingles shot and other recommended vaccinations are covered as prescription drugs under Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans.

Some of those plans provide better coverage than others, but nearly all of them divide their formularies, or list of covered drugs, into tiers according to cost. Drugs in Tier 1 and 2, mainly lower-priced generics and preferred brand-name drugs, have lower co-pays than more expensive nonpreferred brands in Tier 3 or 4.

Consumer Reports found that many Part D plans categorize the shingles vaccine, Zostavax, as an expensive Tier 3 or 4 drug. Only one pharmaceutical companyMerckmakes the shingles shot, and theres currently no generic version.

That means if you havent met your annual deductible, youll likely wind up paying full price for the shot, which is about $217. But depending on your plan, even after the deductible is met, consumers may have to pay a significant part of the shingles vaccine costup to $100.

Many healthcare providers havent set up billing systems to file claims through prescription drug plans. So if you’re vaccinated at your doctors office, you might be required to pay the full shingles vaccine cost up front and then file to be reimbursed by your insurance.

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