Yes, the shingles vaccine is covered by Medicare but your physician cannot bill Medicare for the vaccine. Unlike some other vaccines that are covered under Part B Medicare, the shingles vaccine is covered by Part D, the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. You purchase Part D as a private standalone prescription plan if you have Original Medicare, sometimes referred to as Traditional Medicare. The other option is a Medicare Advantage Plan; some of these plans include a prescription drug benefit known as MA-PD (Medicare Advantage with Prescription Drug).
The reason the shingles vaccine is covered by your Medicare prescription drug plan is because these plans are required, by law, to cover any commercially-available vaccine, Your Part D plan will pay for the vaccination itself and for your doctor or other health care provider to give you the shot (administration). However, you will need to make sure you follow your particular Part D plan's rules and networks in order for the vaccine to be covered.
You will pay the least for the shingles vaccine if you are vaccinated at a pharmacy that is in your drug plan's network. Another option is at a doctor's office that can work with a pharmacy that will bill your Part D plan for the entire cost of the vaccination process, or at a doctor's office that can bill your plan for the vaccine directly using a special computer billing system.
You should only need to pay your prescription drug plan's copayment for the drug and vaccination either to the doctor or to the pharmacist when you get vaccinated.
You may need to pay more if your doctor cannot submit the bill to your Part D plan through a partnering pharmacy and/or if your doctor does not directly bill your plan for the drug using the electronic billing system.
In the situations just mentioned, your doctor can bill you for the entire cost of the vaccination and you will have to pay the bill up front. You will then have to follow your Part D plan's rules to be reimbursed. (Good luck!).
To be on the safe side, before you get a shingles vaccine, it's important that you check with your Part D plan's coverage rules and see where you can get your vaccine so that it will be covered at the lowest cost to you.