April 25, 2018 — Have you known someone who contracted shingles, a painful disease related to the chicken pox? If so you understand why this is a disease you don’t want. Our brother came down with shingles in early March and is still battling it. He described the pain in his head, where his shingles was located, as like being jammed up against a cactus – not fun! But there is good news for everyone (because you can get shingles more than once). You can prevent shingles with a new vaccine, Shingrix, that was approved by the FDA last October.
Up until recently there was a shingles vaccine, Zostavax, that people over
65 were generally urged to take. Unfortunately, if had about a 50% success rate. Better than 0%, but still far from perfect. Now the CDC reports there is a new vaccine that is really effective: In adults 50 to 69 years old who got two doses, Shingrix was 97% effective in preventing shingles; among adults 70 years and older, Shingrix was 91% effective. It is also very effective in preventing PHN, a complication that can come with shingles.
Who Should Get Shingrix?
Shingles is fairly common among people over 40, and is often triggered by stress or disease. The CDR recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months. You should get Shingrix even if in the past you:
– had shingles
– received Zostavax
– are not sure if you had chickenpox
There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.
The CDC says that studies show that Shingrix, a non-living virus, is safe. The vaccine helps your body create a strong defense against shingles. As a result, you are likely to have temporary side effects from getting the shots. The side effects may affect your ability to do normal daily activities for 2 to 3 days.
Most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after getting Shingrix, and some also had redness and swelling where they got the shot. Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. About 1 out of 6 people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.
How to get it and what it costs
To get the Shingrix vaccine, which is available at many clinics and pharmacies, you need a doctor’s prescription, which you might be able to get over the phone, depending on your health and your doctor. To be effective you need two doses of the vaccine, the second coming within 2 to 6 months. That usually costs $280. Your Part D plan will probably reduce that to a fraction of that cost. We drove by a Walgreens yesterday that had a sign outside: “We have the new Shingles vaccine!”, so it is here.
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