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Saturday, May 31, 2014

If you are 60+ get the Shingles Vaccine

If you're 60 or older, think about getting the shingles vaccine.

Shingles is a painful skin rash with blisters and usually appears on one side of the face or body and lasts 2-4 weeks. Its main symptom is PAIN , but can also include fever, headache, chills, upset stomach. The symptom of pain can even continue after the rash clears up.

Only someone who has had chickenpox can get shingles. The virus stays in your body and can cause shingles many years later.

You can't catch shingles from another person with shingles, but a person with shingles can pass it on to someone who has never had chickenpox.  

Shingles is more common in people 50 years of age or older & more common in people whose immune systems are weakened because of disease such as from cancer, drugs, steroids, or chemotherapy. (However, I know several people who have gotten shingles and NONE of them had weakened immune systems).

The shingles vaccine will reduce the risk of getting shingles by 50%. It can also reduce pain in people who still get shingles after being vaccinated.

So why do they recommend getting the vaccine if you are 60 or older?  Because the more severe severe effects of shingles affect adults 60 years old or older. The pain is pretty intense, even with pain meds.

Some insurance carriers, like Kaiser Permanente, will cover the cost of immunizations, but others do not. All Medicare Part D plans cover the shingles vaccine, but Medicare part B does not. The out-of-pocket cost for those who don't have this benefit will be around $200 and you can get the vaccine at places like Walgreens.

So, if you over 60 & had chickenpox as a kid (which the majority of the USA population has had), you only need a single dose of the vaccine & can reduce your chance of getting the painful disease of shingles.

For more info, see the Centers of Disease Control.