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Don’t Get Painful Shingles: New Vaccine Is 90% Effective!

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

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.

Side Effects
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.

For more information
CDC Facts about Shingles Vaccine
Why You Should Get the New Shingles Vaccine (NY Times)

Comments? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on April 24th, 2018


  1. I had the older Shingles shot and just spoke to my doctor two weeks ago and he suggested Hub and I get the new one. I worked with a guy who got the Shingles about 10 years ago and he was absolutely miserable with it and missed work.

    I will be on Medicare in August so this will work out perfectly! Hub is already on Medicare.

    Just got the first Pneumonia shot too. Next year is the 2nd shot.

    by Louise — April 25, 2018

  2. AS a former nurse, I would be skeptical. Do your research before getting any vaccine–many are toxic and the contents of the vaccine for shingles and the flu shot as well have been well analyzed online. Be very careful before making your decision. Medical Doctors in the USA play into the hands of big pharma. You can check what is done in Britain and Canada. No doubt about shingles is awful…the shot may be OK for you. I am just saying look into the side effects and the percentage of effectiveness.

    by Jennifer — April 25, 2018

  3. As a RN I absolutely agree with Jennifer. Do your research. I myself will not consider anything out of Big Pharma until it has been on the market at least 5 years. I have never gotten a flu shot and have not had the flu in almost 20 years. I have not looked lately, but I have seen that members on the board of the CDC have ties to the pharmaceutucal industry. There is a lot of money to be made here. I am also skeptical of the push to have baby boomers tested for HepC. Either it is also hype or we are not getting the full story.

    by Bonnie — April 25, 2018

  4. You are an RN who doesn’t get a flu shot? That an active member of the medical community has such a high level of skepticism toward the flu vaccine surprises and worries me. What is it that we, the apparently unsuspecting public, don’t know that you do?

    Agreed that big pharma & the CDC are way too cozy with each other, but am also clear that excessive cynicism can sometimes cause us to throw the baby out with the bath water.

    by JCarol — April 25, 2018

  5. JCarol – I was also an RN and agree with Bonnie. She may no longer be interacting with patients. I have not had a flu shot in three years and have not gotten the flu. The years I did get the flu shot, I was still an active nurse and I was very ill each winter. My doctor said that the variety of viruses was not covered by the flu shot that year. This happened to me several years in a row. This year I was really vindicated as the flu shot did not cover the flu viruses which was included in the vaccine produced this year. More people got the flu and several died who had gotten the flu shot. Some who died did not get the flu shot but more had gotten it than did not that died. Big pharma creates ways to make money and then creates a system where they cannot be sued. It does not take much research to see that if you boost your immune system when you become ill–apple cider vinegar in sparkling water, eating fermented vegetables are two good examples–you will eventually overcome most illness. One should see their doctor if they have breathing issues and become ill.

    by Jennifer — April 25, 2018

  6. All we can say is you lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Read the evidence, ask for professional opinions, and make your own decisions. As for us, the CDC is a pretty reputable outfit that relies on scientific evidence. We are going with science!

    by Admin — April 25, 2018

  7. I have a kid who is a clinical pharmacist, who has suggested I get the new vaccine asap instead of relying on the vaccination I got a few years ago. He cited many of the same facts identified in the article. Having relatives who suffered with Shingles, I’ve seen how painful and debilitating it can be (not to mention the potental complications). It’s worth discussing Shingrix with your own health care providers and pharmacists! Personally, I’d rather take efforts to avoid Shingles rather than treat it,

    by Kate — April 26, 2018

  8. Bonnie & Jennifer,

    As a health professional (PA) please do not confuse causation with association. I would never encourage my patients (esp. elderly) NOT to get the flu or shingles vaccines. The results could be devastating, to say the least. I am also skeptical of Big Pharma but let’s keep our priorities straight. I have not had the flu and I get the vaccine every year, but I would not assume that the converse is true. I agree that it is important to do one’s research before taking any vaccine or medication and then discuss with one’s health care provider to separate fact from fiction.

    by Rotelet — April 26, 2018

  9. I will also take the new shingles shot, took the pneumonia shot, will take the second pneumonia shot next year. Just got a new tetanus shot which includes some other things for pertussis and diphtheria. I always get a flu shot too.

    People should read books about the pioneer people and the hardships they had. On top of tilling the land with oxen and mules and hoping they could grow enough to feed their families, they had to deal with smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, measles and in the 1950’s polio. Those are just a few diseases out there. A lot of those people lost whole families to these diseases.

    Then there was the 1918-19 flu epidemic that killed millions all over the world. I don’t think cider vinegar or eating organic would have helped.

    Parents that don’t get their kids vaccinated are just creating a ticking time bomb with their kids. Most likely they will get sick and then will cause others to be sick.

    Most of us who have animals get them vaccinated for rabies. Other vaccinations will allow them to live a long, healthy life.

    by Louise — April 26, 2018

  10. I’ll get the new one. I did get the old one. I’ve had two friends get shingles this year, they are still suffering badly. One is 93 and totally engulfed thru the back, legs, privates – wants to die. The second, has it on his face encroaching eye – very scary, he was waiting for the new vaccine to come out and got it. If you are close to sufferers it gives you real pause.

    by ljtucson — April 26, 2018

  11. My friend had it probably 15 years ago and suffered horribly with it. He had to take some time off from work due to his discomfort. He said it was horrible. He was in his early 50’s at the time.

    by Louise — April 26, 2018

  12. I guess I should have included that in doing your research to consider your personal risk factors. The elderly are especially at risk and more so if they are in a medical community setting. Time flies, it’s been 30 years since I’ve had the flu and that may be partly because I left direct patient care 14 years ago after taking my graduate school pharmacology course. I decided that not only was I not going to prescribe pharmaceuticals I was not going to dispense them. It’s my personal line in the sand and you are free to disagree with it.

    by Bonnie — April 26, 2018

  13. Nurses along with my sister must be vaccinated to keep their job in Boston. Also a friend who is a caregiver must do the same, seems logical.

    by Billy — April 26, 2018

  14. I’m firmly in the camp of getting vaccinated and will investigate the new shingles shot before my next doctor appointment. Over the years I’ve seen people cope with the agony of shingles and realized this was a life’s adventure that was best avoided. Shortly after that first vaccine became available I rolled up my sleeve and the nurse harpoon my arm.

    Many of us clearly remember elementary classroom attendance being decimated several times each term when childhood illnesses swept through. Measles, German measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, etc., are no picnic. I knew a handful of kids who died of complications from those illnesses and was acquainted with several people who’d tragically contracted polio before the Salk/Sabin godsends became available.

    It seems prudent to have healthy suspicions and wariness of self-serving giants like Monsanto, Walmart, big pharma, oil companies, and most politicians. It seems equally prudent to weigh that skepticism against the foolishness of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    by JCarol — April 26, 2018

  15. I have an excellent physician…who is one to hold back on new things if he is uncertain of the outcome. He has advised me to get the new shingles vaccination, although I have had the old one. I will get the new shingles vaccination.Everyone who has had shingles says it is weighing the pros and cons…..I think I would rather take the very limited risk of the new vacine.

    by Roberta Bengtson — April 26, 2018

  16. Agreed everyone must do what is right for them I am aware that shingles is no picnic I had it myself after a personal crisis…and I have seen it many times in my career. Just do your research and do not rely on a vaccine that has not yet been tested. It seems too soon to jump into taking a new vaccine. I have seen many drugs put out by the pharmaceutical industry that did more harm than good and even caused fatalities, however by the time that happened and the drug was pulled from the market, the pharmaceutical had made their money. Just be very careful everyone.

    by Jennifer — April 26, 2018

  17. As a child of a mother who contracted and survived polio at age 19 and then suffered her entire life with mobility issues, my brother and I were usually first in line for all vaccines. My only real health issues for 65 years have been “catching” viruses brought into my classrooom as an elementary school teacher for 34 years! It will be interesting to compare the high cost of the new shingles vaccine in the US with what it will cost in Canada and other countries. That is where “big pharma” is really sticking it to us! The barriers to purchasing medicine across the border must be removed-ask candidates for the next election what they will do to promote that change. As a former resident of Maine, I can tell you that busloads of US citizens in our northern states are risking legal ramifications in order to buy life saving medicines at much more reasonable prices. We need to use our voting power as retirees to break the stranglehold of big pharma in this country – that is one of the best things we could do for future generations.

    by SandyZ — April 27, 2018

  18. Is the new shingles vaccine covered by medicare?

    by Bart — April 27, 2018

  19. Bart – A November 2017 NY Times article indicates that Medicare will cover it under Part D once the vaccine is approved by the CDC. Given that Part D’s benefits vary from one provider to the next, we’ll all have to check with our providers to know our individual coverage. .

    The article gives a lot of information about the new vaccine as well as the older one. It doesn’t appear that accessing this article requires a NY Times subscription.

    by JCarol — April 27, 2018

  20. So glad that those of us who got the older vaccine can also get this one. I’ll start the vaccination series soon.

    by Elaine C. — April 28, 2018

  21. There is another point to consider which I did not see discussed here. I am a retired RN Educator. There is a correlation because it is the same source–if you had chicken pox as a child, you are definitely more likely to have shingles as an adult. Yes, I had chicken pox at age 9. At 21, working in hospital, I developed shingles. It assuredly is VERY painful. Just saying, tell your physician if you had chicken pox when you are inquiring about yea or nay on the vaccine.

    by Kate — April 28, 2018

  22. I’m not an “antivaxer” but will wait for 2 or 3 years before deciding on whether to get this new vaccine. My Dr recommended against the older one due to the low efficacy and side effects that were seen. Often side effects aren’t seen until a new med is in wide spread use since the clinical trials have a limited number of subjects. In the meantime I’ll make sure my vitamin D levels are kept up and take care to manage stress.

    by jean — April 29, 2018

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