Zostavax Cost

The Zostavax medication can cost between $212 to $240 per shot (depending on which pharmacy or provider the drug is purchased from).

As to Medicare, please note that:

Medicaid may or may not cover the vaccine. Patients must contact their insurer to find out.

Most private health insurance plans do cover the drug for people 60 years of age or older.

Clinical studies have shown that Zostavax:

  • is not cost-effective for patients 50 to 59 years of age, and
  • is of questionable cost-effectiveness for patients aged 60 years and over.

People taking the Zostavax medication have reported experiencing some of the following complications and side effects:

  • shingles (or, the virus that Zostavax was meant to prevent),
  • rash,
  • hives,
  • fever,
  • nausea,
  • headache, and
  • joint and muscle pain.

In addition, thousands of Zostavax lawsuits have been filed against the drug's manufacturer Merck & Co Inc. Pharmaceuticals since 2016. The plaintiffs in these lawsuits allege that, in addition to the above complications, the medication causes:

  • neurological diseases or disorders, like brain inflammation (or encephalitis) and brain damage,
  • spinal cord inflammation (or myelitis),
  • hearing loss,
  • blindness,
  • liver damage and liver failure, and
  • neuropathy.

Shingrix is another vaccine that is aimed to prevent a person from experiencing shingles. The drug is given in two injections and costs $140 per shot. The vaccine is now the preferred medication for preventing shingles and studies have shown that it is more cost-effective than Zostavax.

Our national mass tort lawsuit attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

herpes zoster
The Herpes Zoster Virus

1. What is the cost of Zostavax?

Zostavax costs between $212 to $240 per shot (depending on which pharmacy or provider the drug is purchased from). The drug is administered via a single shot.

2. Is the vaccine covered by Medicare/Medicaid?

Medicare Part D plans do cover Zostavax, but there might be some cost to the patient depending on his plan. The drug may involve a copay and a patient may need to pay for the shot out-of-pocket and then get reimbursed a certain percentage.1

Medicare Part B does not cover the medication.2

Medicaid may or may not cover the vaccine. Patients should contact their insurers for more information.3

3. Is Zostavax covered under private health insurance?

The drug is covered under most private health insurance plans for patients 60 years of age and older. Some plans also cover the drug for persons 50 to 59 years old.4

4. What if a patient cannot pay for the drug?

Merck does provide Zostavax to eligible adults that cannot afford the vaccine. In order to find out about eligibility, patients should visit merckhelps.com.

5. Is Zostavax cost-effective for patients 50 to 59 years old?

According to one clinical study, reported in Annals of Internal Medicine, Zostavax is not cost-effective in patients 50 to 59 years of age.5

The study states that a drug is considered cost-effective when it costs, at most, $100,000 per year of healthy life gained. The cost of Zostavax, per the study's findings, is over $300,000 per year of healthy life gained.6

Please note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) does not recommend Zostavax for people 50 to 59 years old.

senior citizen holding credit card
One study has shown that Zostavax is of questionable cost-effectiveness for patients aged 60 years and ove

6. Is Zostavax cost-effective for patients 60 years old and over?

One study has shown that Zostavax is of questionable cost-effectiveness for patients aged 60 years and over.7

This is largely because of:

  • the relatively low efficacy of Zostavax, and
  • the tendency of it to become less effective over time.8

The study recommends that people in this age class take Shingrix for a more cost-effective Shingles vaccine.9

7. Are there complications associated with Zostavax?

People taking the Zostavax medication have reported experiencing some of the following complications and side effects:

  • shingles (or, the virus that Zostavax was meant to prevent),
  • rash,
  • hives,
  • fever,
  • nausea,
  • headache, and
  • joint and muscle pain.10

In addition, thousands of Zostavax lawsuits have been filed against the drug's manufacturer Merck & Co Inc. Pharmaceuticals since 2016. The plaintiffs in these lawsuits allege that, in addition to the above complications, the medication causes:

  • neurological diseases or disorders, like brain inflammation (or encephalitis) and brain damage,
  • spinal cord inflammation (or myelitis),
  • hearing loss,
  • blindness,
  • liver damage and liver failure, and
  • neuropathy.

Zostavax may also cause immunocompromised patients to develop shingles.

8. Are there other vaccines, besides Zostavax, that help prevent shingles?

Shingrix is another vaccine that is aimed to prevent a person from experiencing shingles.

The CDC states that Shingrix is the preferred drug over Zostavax. CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months, to best fight off the Shingles illness.11

According to CDC:

  • two doses of Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles, and
  • protection stays above 85% for at least the first four years after a patient gets vaccinated.12

In one trial that involved more than 15,000 patients (aged 50 or older), Shingrix's efficacy for preventing Shingles was greater than 95%.13 In a companion trial that included almost 14,000 patients (aged 70 or older), efficacy was about 90%.14

9. What is Shingrix's cost and cost-effectiveness?

Shingrix is given in two injections and costs $140 per shot. As stated above, one study has shown that the medication is more cost-effective than Zostavax in patients aged 60 years and over.15

Did you experience an injury or adverse condition after taking Zostavax? Call us for help…

zostavax attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has experienced an injury or adverse effect upon taking the Zostavax vaccine, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.


Legal References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “What Everyone Should Know about Shingrix.” CDC website.

  2. See same.

  3. See same.

  4. See same.

  5. Andrew Seaman, “Shingles vaccine not cost effective before age 60.” Reuters.com.

  6. See same.

  7. Herpes zoster subunit vaccine cost-effective among older patients,” Healio.com.

  8. See same.

  9. See same.

  10. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Zostavax.” FDA website.

  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “What Everyone Should Know about Shingrix.” CDC website.

  12. See same.

  13. Abigail Zuger, MD, “New Shingles Vaccine is Here!” New England Journal of Medicine.

  14. See same.

  15. “Herpes zoster subunit vaccine cost-effective among older patients,” Healio.com.

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