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What is the medical condition known as shingles?

Shingles is a painful/burning infection characterized by a red rash that usually appears as a stripe of blisters on the left or right side of the torso that will generally last two to six weeks. Other parts of the body that may be affected include the head, arms, chest abdomin or buttocks down to the feet. Patients will most often get shingles only once, but it is possible to get it multiple times.

The source of the virus

The varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is what causes chicken pox and shingles. After having chicken pox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. For unknown reasons, the virus can reactivate years later and cause shingles.

Who is at risk of getting shingles?

Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles, and children are included. The risk increases with age, and about half of all cases occur in men and women age 60 or older. Individuals at greater risk will have medical conditions that keep their immune systems from working properly(such as cancers like leukemia and lymphoma and HIV), or may be taking immunosuppressive drugs such as steroids and drugs given after organ transplantation.

Treatment options

No cure exists for shingles, so treatment is centered around shortening the length of illness and preventing complications. Antiviral medications can be taken to reduce the pain and duration. Antidepressents, pain meds, and topical creams are prescribed to relieve long-term discomfort.


Clinical studies trials are being held in parts of the USA in an effort to advance the understanding of the shingles virus and to identify potential treatments.

CBS medical benefits

The shingles vaccine, known as Zostavax, is considered a preventative care benefit by HCR for members over age 60. Zostavax may be recommended for members under age 60 due to a medical condition. The FDA has approved the vaccine for people over age 50.


EBT coverage: PPO physician is payable at 100% of charges for injection only or injection and vaccine. Express Scripts pharmacy benefit pays 100% of vaccine when purchased at pharmacy. CBS will also reimburse the member 100% of the cost of a pharmacy's charge for the injection only or the cost of injection and vaccine.


RMT coverage: No age limit. Coverage at 100%. If place of service does not accept Religious Medical Trust, the member has to pay out of pocket and submit to CBS for reimbursement.