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“Medicare Autumn” Fact Sheet: Shingles Vaccines Are Now Free For American Seniors

By November 7, 2023No Comments

Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, Medicare is better than ever and seniors can get their shingles shots and all other vaccines recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, such as COVID-19, RSV, and the flu, for free. Prior to the Inflation Reduction Act, seniors could be forced to spend hundreds of dollars out of pocket for these vaccines, contributing to particularly low vaccination rates for low-income seniors, seniors of color, and rural seniors. The Inflation Reduction Act also brought down the cost of prescription medications for seniors on Medicare by capping insulin costs at $35 per month, limiting outrageous price hikes, and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.

This is just the beginning: In 2025, seniors’ total drug costs will be capped at $2,000 per year and, in 2026, new savings from Medicare’s drug price negotiation will take effect. Together, these provisions will save seniors thousands of dollars on prescription drugs.


  • 50.5 million American seniors can get their shingles vaccine free of cost, including over 9 million Medicare beneficiaries under 65 with disabilities, 15 million beneficiaries of color, and millions of rural beneficiaries.
  • Seniors will save up to $424 on their two-part shingles shots.
  • 84.5 million Medicaid recipients will also benefit from increased access to vaccinations.

Seniors Will Continue To Save Hundreds On Their Shingles Vaccine. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, 50.5 million seniors are saving up to hundreds of dollars when getting vaccinated against shingles. With a single shot of Shingrix costing $212, seniors on Medicare Part D are saving over $400 on average on vaccinations. The cost of the shingles vaccine has been a driving factor in keeping vaccination rates especially low for the Black and Latino communities. This will level the playing field for seniors on Medicare, given that Americans on private insurance typically can get their shingles vaccines at no cost. 

33 Percent of Americans Will Develop Shingles In Their Lifetime. Shingles is a reactivation of the chicken pox virus, typically occurring in adults older than 50 years old. Symptoms include a painful rash, itching, fever, headache, chills, and nausea. The risk of shingles increases with age, making it paramount for vaccinations to be available and accessible. While complications or death from shingles is not common, seniors with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable, with 30 percent of shingles hospitalizations occurring within this population.

Required Vaccine Coverage For Medicaid Recipients Will Benefit Nearly 85 Million Americans. The Inflation Reduction Act also required state Medicaid and CHIP programs to cover vaccines recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for no out-of-pocket costs. This allowed an estimated 4 million adults to gain access to shingles vaccines that didn’t previously have access before. Accessible vaccinations will particularly help low-income families on Medicaid, many of whom are people of color and people with disabilities, to help prevent illness and related work absences.