Shingles: Medicare Coverage and Other Information

Published 03/07/2018

Nearly a million people in the United States develop shingles (herpes zoster) each year. If you’ve had chickenpox, you can develop shingles during your lifetime. Even more concerning is that 99 percent of Americans have had chickenpox, so the number of individuals who are at risk can be astounding.

Will Medicare cover the shingles vaccine and administration/shot?
Medicare Part A or Part B doesn’t cover the vaccine or for your doctor or practitioner to administer the shot.

Medicare Part D prescription drug plans generally cover preventive vaccines that Medicare Part B does not cover, including the shingles vaccine. Check with your Part D plan for coverage details.

Can shingles be prevented?
The vaccine decreases but does not eliminate your chance of developing shingles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises healthy people 50 years or older to get vaccinated, even if they have already had shingles. The vaccine could help decrease the chance of another outbreak or reduce the pain and duration of one.

Can shingles be passed from person to person?
No. Shingles cannot be spread from one person to another. However, a person who has never had chickenpox could get chickenpox from a person with shingles if they come in direct contact with the rash.

Talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine
Let your doctor know if you have a weakened immune system, are undergoing cancer treatment, or have active tuberculosis. Do not get the vaccine if you are pregnant or think you might be. Also, anyone moderately or severely ill should wait till they feel better before getting the vaccine.

Questions about your Railroad Medicare coverage can be directed to our Beneficiary Contact Center at 1-800-833-4455, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. ET. For the hearing impaired, call TTY/TDD at 1-877-566-3572. This line is for the hearing impaired with the appropriate dial-up service and is available during the same hours Customer Service Representatives are available.

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