Does Medicare Cover Zostavax?

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Medicare is a federal health insurance program in the United States that primarily caters to individuals who are 65 years or older. It also covers certain younger individuals with disabilities or specific medical conditions. Medicare consists of several parts, each addressing different aspects of healthcare services:

  1. Medicare Part A: Also known as hospital insurance, Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and some home healthcare services.
  2. Medicare Part B: Referred to as medical insurance, Part B covers outpatient services, doctor visits, preventive care, medical supplies, and certain outpatient prescription drugs.
  3. Medicare Part C: Commonly known as Medicare Advantage, Part C provides an alternative to Original Medicare (Parts A and B) and offers additional benefits through private insurance companies.
  4. Medicare Part D: Part D offers prescription drug coverage, helping beneficiaries with the cost of medications.

Zostavax Coverage under Medicare

Now, let’s delve into whether Medicare covers Zostavax. It’s important to note that Zostavax is a vaccine designed to prevent shingles, a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Medicare coverage for vaccines depends on the specific circumstances and the type of Medicare plan you have.

  1. Original Medicare (Parts A and B): Medicare Part A and Part B typically do not cover the cost of the Zostavax vaccine. However, there may be instances where Part B covers certain vaccines received in an outpatient setting. It’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the coverage options available to you.
  2. Medicare Advantage (Part C): Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Part C, are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. These plans are required to provide at least the same coverage as Original Medicare (Parts A and B). Therefore, if your Medicare Advantage plan covers vaccines, there is a possibility it may cover Zostavax. Review your plan’s documents or contact your insurance provider to ascertain the specifics of vaccine coverage.
  3. Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans: Medicare Part D plans often include coverage for vaccines, including those like Zostavax. However, each Part D plan has its own formulary, which is a list of covered medications. To determine if Zostavax is covered by your Part D plan, you can refer to the plan’s formulary or contact your prescription drug plan provider.

Exploring Alternative Options

If Medicare does not cover Zostavax or you have limited coverage, there are alternative options to consider to help manage the cost:

  1. Medicaid: Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides healthcare coverage for individuals with limited income. If you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, known as “dual eligibility,” you may be able to receive coverage for Zostavax through your Medicaid benefits.
  2. Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap): Medigap plans, offered by private insurance companies, can help fill the gaps in coverage left by Original Medicare (Parts A and B). While Medigap plans do not typically cover vaccines, they can assist in reducing out-of-pocket costs associated with other healthcare services.
  3. Patient Assistance Programs: Some pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs that provide financial assistance or free medications, including vaccines, to eligible individuals. It’s worth exploring whether such programs exist for Zostavax or other shingles vaccines.


  • Medicare coverage for Zostavax varies depending on the specific Medicare plan you have.
  • Original Medicare (Parts A and B) generally does not cover the cost of Zostavax.
  • Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans may offer coverage for Zostavax, depending on the plan.
  • Medicare Part D prescription drug plans may cover Zostavax, but it is essential to check the plan’s formulary.
  • Alternative options include Medicaid, Medigap plans, and patient assistance programs.

For more information, you can visit the following trusted sources:

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Remember, it is crucial to review the specific details of your Medicare plan or contact your insurance provider to understand your coverage options fully.

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