4 seniors: Highly-effective shingles vaccine on the market

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OKLAHOMA CITY – If you’re 50-years-old or older, there’s a new shingles vaccine that could help you in the long run.

Shingles is a burning, blistering, often excruciating skin rash that affects around 1 million Americans each year. In the U.S. almost one out of every three people will develop shingles during their lifetime. While anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles, it most commonly occurs in people over 50-years-old.

Early signs of the disease include pain, itching or tingling before a blistering rash appears several days later, and can last up to four weeks. Also, about 20 to 25% of patients develop severe nerve pain that can last for months or years.

The FDA recently approved a new vaccine for shingles called Shingrix, which provides much better protection than the older vaccine, Zostavax. In fact, Shingrix is 97% effective in preventing shingles in people 50 to 69-years-old, and 91% effective in those 70 and older.

Shingrix is also better in preventing nerve pain that continues after the rash clears.

Due to the enhanced protection, the CDC recommends that everyone age 50 and older receive the Shingrix vaccine, which is given in two doses.

Even if you’ve already had shingles, you still need these vaccinations because reoccurring cases are possible. The CDC also recommends that anyone previously vaccinated with Zostavax be revaccinated  with Shingrix.

Side effects include muscle pain, fatigue, headache, fever and upset stomach.

Shingrix, which costs around $280 for both doses, will soon be covered by insurance and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. Before getting vaccinated, call your plan to find out if it is covered and which pharmacies and doctors you should use to insure the best coverage.

If you don’t have health insurance, you may qualify for the patient assistance program. 

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