The shingles shot, sold under the brand name Zostavax®, is a cause of confusion for a lot of people. Does Medicare cover it? How much does this shingles shot cost? What are the side effects? Who should get the shot? I will answer these questions, but remember it is always your health care providers job to determine whether or not you should get the vaccine.
Who should get the shingles shot?
The shingles shot is currently recommended for people 50 years of age and older to reduce the chance of getting shingles. It reduces the chances of getting the shingles by about half and may reduce the severity of shingles if you do have and outbreak.
People who should not get the vaccine include: people allergic to gelatin and neomycin, people with weak immune systems, pregnant women or women planning to get pregnant, anyone with a fever above 101.3 degrees F, anyone who has had the Pneumovax® in the last four weeks and people on high doses of steroids like prednisone.
The Zostavax® can only be given with a prescription from your Doctor. Be sure to discuss all your medications and health conditions to help your Doctor or other health care provider determine if you should receive the vaccine. Also, your Pharmacist my double check your eligibility for the shot.
Cost and Medicare
The cash price for a shingles shot somewhere above $200 and will vary by clinic or pharmacy. If you don’t have insurance coverage you may want to call around for the best price or see if you are eligible for extra help.
The shot is not covered by regular Medicare. It is covered under Medicare Part D. The same plan that covers medications is the plan that will most likely cover the shingles shot. You may want to contact the customer service at your Medicare Part D plan to check on your coverage. The price varies greatly by plan and may be a small copay or you may have to pay almost full price.
Private insure coverage varies greatly. Some companies will only pay for it at the pharmacy and some will only pay if you get it at the Doctor’s office. Save yourself some time and call your insurance ahead of time and determine if they cover it and where.
Side Effects and Reactions
A rash near the injection site is the most common side effect. Followed by headache and fever. As will all vaccines there is a very small risk of anaphylaxis and death. Read the CDC’s information sheet for more information.
Do your homework and talk to your Doctor to find out if getting the shingles shot is right for you.