The full price for two doses of the shingles vaccine is around $324. However, the amount you need to pay usually depends on your insurance.
- Medicare Part D plans generally cover the shingles vaccine, but some plans require you to “copay.” In some plans, you may need to pay in full when you get vaccinated and then apply for full reimbursement. The majority of patients pay an out-of-pocket cost of less than $50 per dose, and the rest is covered by your plan.
- Medicare Part B does not cover the shingles vaccine.
- You must remember that the cost and the coverage may vary and are subject to change without notice. Your insurer is the best person to talk to when it comes to such queries.
Medicaid may or may not cover the vaccine. You must discuss with your insurer for details.
Private health insurance
Most private health insurance plans cover the vaccine, with about 90 percent of privately insured patients paying less than $5 per dose.
If you do not have the above-mentioned plans, you may want to seek these options:
- Some pharmaceutical companies provide vaccines to eligible adults who cannot afford them. You can check with GlaxoSmithKline, the vaccine manufacturer, about Shingrix.
- You can avail of the Shingrix vaccine at lower prices (up to $183.33) by using certain Shingrix coupons or the free savings card from sites such as SingleCare. Some pharmacies such as CVS Pharmacy, Target, Walmart Pharmacy, or Walgreens can run your SingleCare prescription discount card, and you can claim savings on your vaccine.
What is the Shingrix vaccine?
Shingrix is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration–approved vaccine aimed to prevent shingles (also known as herpes zoster) 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 person’s nerve roots and become active when the immunity wanes (old age, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, immunosuppressant drugs, steroids, after prolonged infection, and cancer).
- A particular complication of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), 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 body’s immune system and helps the body to develop an immunity to herpes zoster or shingles.
Is there a downside to the shingles vaccine?
Though the vaccine is deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are certain conditions in which the vaccine may not be safe for you.
- The shingles vaccine has only been tested in adults over age 50 years and immunocompromised adults above 18 years; thus, there is no recommendation for the vaccine for younger ages by the FDA.
- You should not get the vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous Shingrix dose.
- You have tested negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus (in that case, you should get a chickenpox vaccine and not a shingles vaccine).
- You have an active shingles infection.
- You are currently pregnant or breastfeeding.
- High fever (more than 100 F) on day of vaccination.
Some studies have reported that those who take Shingrix are at a slightly increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome (an autoimmune disorder that attacks your nerves). Some individuals report syncope (fainting spells) during or just after vaccination.
The most common side effects reported after vaccination include:
- Pain and redness at the injection site
- Swelling at the injection site
- General malaise, muscle pain, and tiredness
- Systemic symptoms such as headache, shivering, fever, and upset stomach
These should go away 24 to 48 hours after the vaccination.
Why is the shingles vaccine recommended?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of Shingrix two to six months apart to prevent shingles and complications from the disease. The vaccine is typically administered to adults who are 50 years and older. There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.
It is also given to those who have received a live zoster vaccine (Zostavax) in the past.
The studies report that two doses of Shingrix will be more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles and its complication called postherpetic neuralgia.
The vaccine protects you at least 85 percent of the time for the first four years after vaccination.
You should get Shingrix even if you have a history as follows:
- Already had shingles
- Have received Zostavax* (another vaccine against Shingles, which is no longer given in the United States)
- Are not sure if you had chickenpox in the past
- Shingrix vaccine is also approved for individuals 18 years and above who are at risk of shingles due to immunocompromised states caused by a disease or therapy
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends that all people living with HIV/AIDs who are 50 years and older must get Shingrix regardless of their CD4 count
- For those who are HIV positive, it is best to discuss with the doctor regarding their vaccine
There is no specific time gap that you need to wait after having shingles or herpes episodes before you can receive the Shingrix vaccine. You must discuss with your doctor to make sure the vaccine is safe in your case.
- Make sure the shingles rash has completely cleared before getting vaccinated.
- If there has been a large time gap after your first dose of Shingrix, your doctor may repeat the entire vaccine series.
It is important to remember that SHINGRIX is not used to prevent chickenpox. You can get Shingrix whether you remember having had chickenpox in the past.
Around 33 percent of the US population will get shingles in their lifetime. If you are 50 years or older adult who has had chickenpox, there are chances that the virus that causes shingles may already be present inside your body and can reactivate at any time and put you at an increased risk for shingles.
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