Find a Free Shingles Vaccine for Seniors
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that healthy adults aged 50 and older get the shingles vaccine to reduce their risk of developing this painful and debilitating condition. Luckily, there are a number of options available to seniors who either don’t have insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover the cost of the vaccine. Here’s a look at some reliable sources where you can find free shingles vaccines.
Why are Shingles Vaccines Recommended for Seniors?
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful and contagious virus. It is caused by the Varicella Zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. The risk of contracting shingles increases significantly with age; in people over 60 years old it can be up to six times more likely than in other age groups. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends seniors get vaccinated against shingles.
The shingles vaccine has been proven to reduce the risk of developing shingles by about 50%. It can also reduce pain from post-herpetic neuralgia—the most common complication of shingles—by two-thirds.
It’s important to remember that the shingles vaccination is only effective if it is administered before symptoms of shingles appear. Therefore, getting vaccinated as soon as possible is recommended for seniors over 70 to help prevent the painful effects of this virus.
In fact, the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends a two-dose course of the shingles vaccine for all adults over the age of 50 as well as adults over the age of 19 who have a weakened immune system.
Do Seniors Need a Shingles Vaccine Even if They’ve Had Shingles or Chickenpox in the Past?
The CDC recommends older adults receive a shingles vaccine even if they have had shingles or chickenpox in the past.
The reason for this is having had either of these illnesses does not guarantee immunity from contracting them again. In addition, even if a person has already been exposed to the virus, getting vaccinated can still help reduce their risk of developing post-herpetic neuralgia—the most common complication of shingles.
Do Seniors Need a New Shingles Vaccine if They’ve Had the Zostavax Vaccine in the Past?
The CDC recommends adults over the age of 50 receive two doses of the newer shingles vaccine, Shingrix, even if they have had the older Zostavax vaccine in the past.
The Shingrix vaccine has been found to be more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and its complications, while Zostavax is only around 51% effective at preventing a shingles outbreak.
Where to Find Free Shingles Vaccine for Seniors Over 70
Many pharmacies, clinics, and health care providers offer free or discounted vaccinations for seniors. The best place to start is by checking with your local pharmacy—many pharmacists provide the shingles vaccine at no cost to people over 70.
- Private Health Insurance Plans: If you have insurance coverage, check with your insurer to see if they cover the cost of the shingles vaccine. Your plan may also require that you get the vaccine from a specific provider, so make sure to ask about any network restrictions when making inquiries about coverage.
- Medicare or Medicaid: Effective January 2023, Medicare started covering the entire cost of Shingrix, the recommended vaccine, in most cases. Medicare Advantage and Medicaid may also cover some or all of the cost of the vaccine for those who are enrolled in these programs. Check with your plan administrator to find out if your plan will cover the cost of the shingles vaccine for you.
- Your Doctor or Healthcare Provider: Your healthcare provider may also be able to give you a free vaccine if they have any available.
- Pharmacies: Many pharmacies and retail stores offer discount programs for seniors or provide discounts on immunizations at certain times throughout the year, and to those individuals eligible for certain government programs. Ask your local pharmacist about the availability of free shingles vaccinations.
- Health Department or Public Clinics: It is worth checking with your local health department or public health clinics to see if they offer any discounted or free programs. You can also contact your state or county Health Department to ask about low-cost or free vaccination clinics in your area. They might be able to direct you to an organization that offers the shingles vaccine at a discounted or no-cost rate. Dial 2-1-1 to connect with the health department in your area.
- Nonprofit Organizations: Nonprofit organizations, such as churches and senior centers, may offer free or low-cost shingles vaccine programs to qualifying seniors. Check with community organizations in your area for more information on their offerings.
Getting vaccinated against shingles can help protect you from serious illness and its complications. However, due to the cost of vaccinations, some seniors may not be able to afford them on their own. Fortunately, there are many programs available that provide free or low-cost shingles vaccines for seniors.
Pharmacies, insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid may be able to provide coverage. Additionally, many states and cities offer free or low-cost vaccinations for seniors through participating doctors, pharmacies, or health departments. Dial 2-1-1 or check with your local health department for information on where to get a free shingles vaccine in your area.
With the right resources, you can make sure you or your loved one is protected against this painful virus and its associated risks. By getting vaccinated as soon as possible, you can help prevent lasting complications of shingles and keep yourself healthy and safe.
For more information about free and discounted shingles vaccines for seniors, contact your local pharmacy, health care provider, state health department, or county health department. With proper research and planning you can find a free shingles vaccine for yourself or your loved ones over 70 years old.
DISCLAIMER: The medical information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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