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In 2021, Medicare beneficiaries paid an average of $77 out of pocket for shingles vaccines. In 2023, most beneficiaries will pay $0.
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New Medicare Part D coverage for vaccines
Starting in 2023, all Medicare prescription drug plans cover the shingles vaccine in full — no deductible, no copay.
You can get Medicare prescription drug coverage in two ways:
If you have Original Medicare: Purchase a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan from a private health insurance company to add prescription drug and vaccine coverage.
If you have Medicare Advantage: Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, so you generally can’t buy a separate Part D plan.
Both Medicare Part D options must cover shingles vaccines and certain other vaccines with no out-of-pocket costs under the Inflation Reduction Act, which became law in 2022.
» MORE: What’s new for Medicare in 2023?
Other vaccines covered by Medicare prescription drug plans
In addition to the shingles vaccine, Medicare Part D plans and Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage must also cover other vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Those other vaccines also have no copays or deductibles.
Examples of other covered vaccines include:
Tetanus/diphtheria, or Td.
Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or Tdap.
About the shingles vaccine
Shingrix, the shingles vaccine recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is given in two doses administered between two and six months apart. It works by introducing harmless proteins from the shingles virus into the body, which then stimulates the immune system to recognize and defend against the virus. The CDC says that the Shingrix vaccine is over 90% effective and that efficacy remains above 85% for four years after two doses.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox in children. A shingles infection presents as a very painful rash that can break out anywhere on the body but most often turns up on the right or left side of the torso.
After someone recovers from chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus can lie dormant in the body for years or even decades. For some, this virus reactivates and becomes a shingles infection. Vaccination mitigates this possibility.
Who should get the shingles vaccine?
The CDC recommends that adults 50 and older receive the two-dose Shingrix shingles vaccine. This recommendation extends to those who’ve had shingles already because shingles can sometimes reoccur. However, the CDC recommends against getting the vaccine in certain cases — for instance, if you're experiencing a shingles outbreak.
You can get the shingles vaccine at a doctor’s office or pharmacy. You don’t need a prescription.
If you're unsure about whether you should get this vaccine, ask your primary care provider.
Medicare Advantage companies
Get more information below about some of the major Medicare Advantage companies. These insurance companies offer plans in most states. The plans you can choose from will depend on your ZIP code and county.