Shingles is a later in life reoccurrence of chicken pox. However, it can be far more devastating to an adult. It lays dormant for decades in your nerve root, only to pounce on you when your immune system is weakened by stress, medication, trauma or disease. And the risk is substantial, a full one-third of Americans will eventually get shingles, and the risk increases dramatically with age. In fact, by age 85 a full one-half of that population will have been stricken at least once by the disease.
We have had a long-standing vaccine called Zostavax, but it was only 51% effective. We now have a break-through vaccine called Shingrix which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and it is far more effective, protecting 97% of those in their 50’s and 60’s and 91% in their 70’s and 80’s. In fact, it is recommended that you receive this new vaccination even if you previously had the Zostavax vaccine. The additional protection is that important.
This is a serious vaccination. It requires two shots, two to six months apart. It can leave you with a sore arm for a few days, and some have been reported side effects of a headache, fever or an upset stomach. Further, it is not cheap!
The insurance industry is not clear on paying for this $280 (includes both injections) vaccination. Some do, some don’t, some don’t seem to know. We can say that Medicare patients with prescription coverage under Part D are covered, subject to a co-payment.
Alta Health Group, like most medical practices, does not keep Shingrix on hand. It must be ordered, one injection at a time. We recommend giving our patients a prescription and them going to the local pharmacy with the script and getting the vaccination at the pharmacy. This system seems to work best for everyone. However, check with your local pharmacy as this is new and many do not yet have it in stock. Existing Alta Health Group patients do not need to make an appointment for a prescription. Just call ahead before pickup, or we can send electronically to the pharmacy of your choice.