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Tips on Getting Your Second Shingles Vaccine Dose

Skipping the second dose of the shingles vaccine might mean you have less protection against this painful rash.

To get the most protection against shingles it is important to receive both doses of the vaccine.

Medically reviewed in March 2021

Shingles is a painful condition, and the effects of it can last for months or even years in some cases. Although there is no cure for shingles once you have it, there is a vaccine that prevents shingles in the first place.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that healthy adults over the age of 50 get the shingles vaccine. This is true even if you’ve had shingles in the past, or if you were previously vaccinated with the older shingles vaccine.

The shingles vaccine is administered in two separate doses—once you receive the first dose, the second should be given 2 to 6 months later. After the second dose, the vaccine is more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles, according to the CDC.

Why the second dose matters
The shingles vaccine is designed to be given as two doses, not as one. Despite the effectiveness of the vaccine, some people skip their second dose. Some simply forget to follow up and lose track of the appointment date. Others may skip the second dose due to cost—depending on your insurance plan, you may be responsible for a co-pay or deductible fee, or you may need to pay for the second dose out of pocket.

Getting the second dose gives you the full protection the vaccine offers. Below are some ways to make sure you get your second dose.

Book your second dose appointment in advance
You can get the shingles vaccine at your healthcare provider’s office or at a pharmacy. If possible, book your second appointment when you finish getting your first dose. If you get the vaccine through your healthcare provider, you can schedule this at the office. If you get it at a pharmacy, you can check with your pharmacist.

Set up a reminder system
If you’ve already booked your second dose appointment, simply program a reminder in your smartphone or other place where you keep track of your schedule.

If you haven’t booked a second appointment, you can still set up a reminder for yourself after your first dose to look into scheduling your second dose two months later. The manufacturer of the shingles vaccine also has a second-dose reminder program on their website where you can set up a voicemail, text, or email reminder.

Check on your insurance coverage
Even if you didn’t check with your health insurance company before your first dose, you can do it now so that there won’t be any financial surprises with your second dose. While some insurance companies cover the cost of both doses, others will charge a co-pay or deductible. And some insurance plans don’t cover any portion of the vaccine.

There are also resources and payment options to help make the vaccine more affordable. Check prices with drug discount cards. Check if you qualify for payment assistance through the vaccine’s manufacturer on their website. Ask your healthcare providers office about financing and pricing options.

Article sources open article sources

MedlinePlus. "Shingles."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Shingles Vaccination."
Michelle Andrews. "Adults Skipping Vaccines May Miss Out On Effective New Shingles Shot." KHN. March 20, 2018.
Public Health Madison & Dane County. "Vaccine Efficacy After One Dose of Shingrix in Adults ≥ 50 years of Age."
Shingrix.com. "Sign up for 2nd Dose Reminders."
Consumer Reports. "Why Does My Shingles Vaccine Cost So Much?"

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