I'm So Excited!

Have you or a loved one ever had shingles? And then those shingles turned into postherpetic neuralgia (PNH = pain that doesn’t go away after the shingles do and can hang around for months/years). I have never had shingles, but my husband has, and it was not pretty! He hurt, and I hurt for him (though not as much) because there was not a single thing I could do to help him.

Zostavax vaccine has been a great help with shingles, but it only offered 70% protection for those 50-59. By age 80 and older, that dropped to only 18%. On the plus side, the shots lasted for about 5 years and prevented PNH by about 67%. However, if you were immune-compromised, you could not even have the shot because it was based on a live virus. As well, the older you were when you got shingles, the more likely you were to have PNH.

Now, what has me so excited is that there is a new shingles vaccine that has been found to be safer and more effective. [By the way, I told Don Oxley I was excited about it, and he told me to get into therapy!]

The new vaccine is called Shingrix, and health care experts say it is a game changer. They also found that the body responds much more strongly to Shingrix than to Zostavax. According to the clinical trials, Shingrix, confers 97% protection to those in their 50s and 60s and maintains a 91% protection for those in their 80s and 90s. As well, it cut the risk of having PNH by 86%. It has been approved by the FDA for the prevention of shingles in adults 50 years of age or older.

Now to the nitty-gritty. The vaccine is not based on a live virus. It requires two separate shots given two to six months apart. The side effects (pretty much the same for any vaccine) may be stronger than experienced with Zostavax. Most people have reported side effects that included headaches, fatigue and nausea for two or three days. For me, that is a small price to pay for knowing the likelihood of getting shingles is 90% reduced. Hmm, maybe that is why Don said I need therapy!

The Center for Disease Control has approved Shingrix, but it will take time for Medicare to catch up with it. Some insurances already cover it. CDC recommends discussing the vaccine with your doctor, who can give you more in-depth information.

If you are as member of COSTCO, you can obtain the vaccine at their pharmacy. Are you retired military and covered by Tricare for Life? You can get the vaccine free through a participating network pharmacy. You can also have any Tricare-authorized provider (network or not) order the vaccine for you and only pay the Tricare deductible.

I’m Excited!

Note: information for this article was obtained through the March 2018 On Health Consumer Reports, the COSTCO Connection, the CDC website and Tricare. I am not a health care professional and am not advising in that capacity.