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Shingles is a painful rash, which sometimes leads to long-term nerve pain. The rash often develops on the face or torso and can cause a burning sensation. For some people, the pain can last for months or even years after the rash goes away.
The same virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles. After a person has had chickenpox, the virus lives in an inactive state in the body. The virus can become active again years later, leading to shingles. You can't catch shingles from another person; however, in rare cases a person can get chickenpox if exposed to someone with shingles. This can happen if the exposed person has never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine.
Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past can develop shingles. Those most at risk for getting shingles are adults 50 years and older, and individuals who are immunocompromised due to neurological disorders, certain infectious illnesses and rheumatologic diseases. It is uncommon for shingles to affect children.
Because the virus can’t be eliminated from the body, treatment for shingles includes taking medicines to shorten the length and severity of the illness and to help ease pain and control symptoms until the condition clears up. However, you can take preventive care measures by getting a shingles vaccine.
Recombinant zoster vaccine, also known as Shingrix, has been in use since 2017. Shingrix requires two injections, with the second dose given 2-6 months after the first. Due to greater effectiveness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends Shingrix vaccine and suggests those who received a different zoster vaccine (also known as Zostavax) in the past should be revaccinated with Shingrix for greater protection against shingles. As of November 2020, Zostavax is no longer available in the United States.
Adults who are 50 years and older should get the shingles vaccine. This includes people who already received a dose of the older shingles vaccine, Zostavax; have a history of shingles or other chronic medical conditions; do not have a known history of chickenpox; or have mild immune suppression. Please talk to your doctor if you have questions on whether or not you should be vaccinated.
Common side effects from the vaccine include pain, redness, soreness or swelling at the site of the injection, or other symptoms such as headache, muscle aches, fever, shivering and fatigue. People who have one of these reactions after the first dose of Shingrix vaccine should still get the second dose. Serious side effects from the shingles vaccine are rare.
Most pharmacies are able to vaccinate you without requiring a prescription. Call your local in-network pharmacy to be sure. Once your pharmacy confirms, we recommend that you get the vaccine administered there. You would pay the pharmacy your Medicare Part D copay, and we would pay the remainder of the costs. To find a pharmacy near you, use the pharmacy portal or download the Provider & Pharmacy Directory. If you have any questions about finding a pharmacy, please call Customer Care using the phone number of the back of your Sharp Direct Advantage member ID card.
Medicare Part B (your medical benefits) and Medicare Part D (your prescription drug benefits) cover different vaccines.
Sharp Direct Advantage is offered by Sharp Health Plan. Sharp Health Plan is an HMO with a Medicare contract. Enrollment with Sharp Health Plan depends on contract renewal. Read the full disclaimer.