Varicella Vaccine Cost

Written by: Staff

The varicella vaccine, known as the chickenpox vaccine, is a series of two vaccinations designed to protect nearly everybody from getting chickenpox.

The first vaccination should be administered at 12 to 18 months, while the second shot should be administered at about four to six years old.  For anyone older than this, the second shot would follow 28 days after the initial vaccination, according to the CDC.

Varicella Vaccine Cost
The needle” (CC BY 2.0) by Dr. Partha Sarathi Sahana

How much does the varicella vaccine cost?

The cost of the varicella vaccine will depend on your health insurance policy and where you receive your vaccination.  At a local pharmacy, the prices tend to range anywhere from $125 to $175 per dosage without insurance to as little as $0 with a private health insurance plan, including Medicare.  This price could increase if you were to have the vaccination performed in the doctor’s office as they will tack on a doctor’s office consultation charge.

The Affordable Care Act requires both group and individual health insurance plans to include a number of vaccines as covered preventative services, including varicella.  As long as you’re covered by insurance, there’s a good chance you will not have to pay out of pocket for this vaccination as long as it’s performed at an in-network provider.

According to this Walgreen’s official pricing list at its local care centers, the price, per dosage, is $149.99.  At Walmart, the vaccination, without insurance, is said to be close to the same amount, about $145 per dose.

The CDC, according to its vaccination pricing list, noted the price for the varicella vaccine can range anywhere from as little as $122 to $202 without insurance.

What is the varicella vaccine?

The varicella vaccine, commonly known as chickenpox, is a common childhood disease which can cause a fever, skin rashes and the breakout of painful fluid-filled blisters on the skin.  Most people, according to Cigna, who do receive this vaccination often will not get the chickenpox, and in the case they do, the case is considered to be mild, with very few side effects.  The disease is often spread through the air from person to person or by coming into contact with the fluid from a chickenpox blister.

While chickenpox can be mild, there are some instances where it can serious or even fatal for young infants and adults as it can sometimes lead to breathing problems, skin infections, brain damage or worse yet — death.  A person who has developed chickenpox can often develop shingles later in life, which, similar to chickenpox, can cause nerve pain, skin infection and/or vision/hearing problems, symptoms which can last uncomfortably for months.

The vaccine works by introducing your body to a small dose of the protein from the virus, which will help your body develop an immunity to the disease in the future.

Like all vaccines on the market, it will not provide protection 100 percent and will not cure an active infection.

How does the vaccine work?

As an injection beneath the skin, it can be received either at your local doctor’s office, inside a pharmacy or at the local health department.

Children who are 12 months to 12 years old will receive one injection, or in some cases, may be given a booster three months later.  People are older than 13 years will receive two shots four weeks apart, but individual boosters can different.

Who should get the vaccine?

The varicella vaccine is recommended for all children younger than 13, adolescents and adults who have never had the chickenpox before.  If you already had chickenpox, then the vaccination is not required as you’re not likely to acquire chickenpox twice.

Who should not get the vaccine?

Source:  CDC

Side effects of the varicella vaccine

Source: CDC

Tips to know

If you do not have insurance, talk with your local health department to see if you qualify for a low-cost or no-cost vaccination.  Again, if you do have a health insurance plan, the Affordable Care Act requires new health plans to cover this vaccination, meaning you can go to your local doctor’s office and have the vaccination at no charge.  To be certain, though, talk with your insurance company to know the rules and if you’re covered as some insurance companies will not cover you if your doctor’s office were to bill your visit differently other than “preventive care.”

The Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) may be able to help children at discounts.  If you do not have health insurance or cannot afford the vaccine, you may want to look into this program.

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