Almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue. Years later, the virus may come back as shingles.

Shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the body, often on the face, back or abdomen. Pain and itching may start before the rash shows up. The rash will have blisters that scab over in 7-10 days. The pain may be described as an intense burning. Some people feel tired, have fever, headache, chills or upset stomach. Shingles lasts for 2-4 weeks. For some people, the pain can last for months or years after the rash goes away. If you think you have shingles, call your primary care physician immediately. The sooner you start anti-viral medication, the better it works.

Vaccine for Shingles

Shingrix® is the preferred vaccine to reduce the risk of shingles. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of Shingrix, 2 to 6 months apart. Even if you had Zostavax®, it is recommended you have 2 doses of Shingrix.

Where to get Shingrix

  • For Medicare Advantage members: Shingrix is a Medicare Part D pharmacy benefit. You must receive the vaccine at a pharmacy, not in the doctor’s office. Call your local pharmacy to see if they have Shingrix. Member’s cost may vary depending on pharmacy benefit.
  • For HMO members: Shingrix is a fully covered preventive health benefit without a cost share when given in a physician’s office or at a pharmacy. Please first ask your doctor’s office if they have Shingrix. Or you may call Dr. Stephen Hart, a Travel Medicine doctor, in Berkeley at 510-883-9700.

Reimbursement for Shingrix

You may be eligible for reimbursement for your Shingrix vaccine from your health insurance. Please check with your health plan directly to understand their benefits regarding vaccination reimbursement.

For more information about shingles and Shingrix, visit