WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced the bipartisan Protecting Seniors through Immunization Act (S.3477) to increase seniors’ access to the shingles vaccine. Seniors are at a greater risk of developing shingles. Shingles is a painful rash and sufferers are at risk for developing more serious complications.

“With roughly one million new cases emerging across the country each year, it is important that West Virginians have access to treatment that protects against shingles,” said Senator Capito. “I’m glad to partner with Senator Hirono to introduce this bill, which will make it easier for seniors, who face a greater risk of battling this painful disease, to receive the vaccines they need.”

“Seniors in Hawaii and across the country, including millions on a fixed income, deserve the protection from the shingles virus regardless of their ability to pay for a vaccine. This bill, which I am proud to introduce with Senator Capito, provides these seniors access to the shingles vaccine without having to worry about high out of pocket costs,” said Senator Hirono.

“The Adult Vaccine Access Coalition (AVAC) endorses the Shingles Prevention Act, which would eliminate out-of-pocket shingles vaccine costs for Medicare Part D beneficiaries and ensure that they receive important information about Medicare vaccine coverage,” said Laura Hanson, co-chair of AVAC. “Less than 30 percent of Americans over the age of 60 have received a shingles vaccine; this bill addresses two of the biggest barriers—cost and lack of awareness—that prevent more Americans from accessing it. As a diverse health coalition devoted exclusively to increasing adult vaccine rates, AVAC applauds Senators Hirono and Capito for their leadership on this bill.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that seniors over 60 receive the shingles vaccine. However, because of high out of pocket Medicare costs, only about a quarter of seniors get vaccinated. The Protecting Seniors through Immunization Act provides the shingles vaccine free of charge for Medicare Part D beneficiaries, and improves outreach on the importance of getting vaccinated.

The Protecting Seniors through Immunization Act is supported by 23 organizations including the American College of Preventative Medicine, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians.