Learn How A Trip To Your Local Pharmacy Can Protect You Against A Painful Shingles Infection
Anyone who has ever had chickenpox is at risk for shingles. Both conditions are caused by the varicella-zoster virus. After a bout of chickenpox resolves, this virus remains in the body in a dormant state, taking up residence in nerve tissues. Years later, the virus can reactivate and cause shingles. Its estimated that one in three people will experience shingles during their lifetime.
Shingles causes a red, blistering, painful rash that often appears in a strip on one side of the torsothough it can also occur on the face, neck, and around the eyes. The pain can be intense. People may also experience itching, burning, tingling, and numbness. Between 10 and 18 percent of people with shingles experience a complication called postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN, nerve pain that lasts for months or even years.
Fortunately, there is a vaccine that can protect you against shingles, and you can get this vaccine at most pharmacies. Getting vaccinated at a pharmacy can be helpful to people who may want to avoid medical offices during the coronavirus pandemic.
Preventive care is important The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the healthcare system in a number of ways. One of those ways is a decrease in the number of people who are usingor who are able to usepreventive care. Preventive care refers to routine checkups, screenings, vaccinations, and other healthcare services that focus on preventing disease or monitoring your overall health.
Shingrix Is Not A Live Vaccine
A live vaccine is one that contains a weakened form of a germ. Shingrix is not a live vaccine. Its an inactive vaccine, which is a vaccine thats made from a germ thats been killed.
Because Shingrix is inactive, more people can receive it. This includes people with a weakened immune system .
People with weakened immune systems are typically advised against receiving live vaccines. This is because on very rare occasions, live vaccines can mutate back to the full-strength germ that causes a disease.
If this happens, people with weakened immune systems would have a much higher risk for developing the disease that the vaccine is meant to prevent.
Shingrix is also a recombinant vaccine. This means that its made of parts of the shingles virus, such as protein, sugar, or capsid .
There used to be an alternative shingles vaccine to Shingrix. This other vaccine was called Zostavax.
Like Shingrix, it was approved to prevent shingles . However, Zostavax is
Below, we briefly describe the similarities and differences between these two vaccines.
Medicare Coverage For Shingles Vaccine
Shingrix is not the first shingles vaccine, but it is the only one currently on the market in the United States.Instead of using a live virus,the vaccine uses a protein from the virus to trigger an immune response. It is administered in two doses two to six months apart.
This shingles vaccine has been shown to decrease the risk for shingles by 97% for people between 50 and 69 years old and by 91% for people 70 and older. It reduces complications as well. The risk for post-herpetic neuralgia goes down by 91% and 89%, respectively, in those age groups.
Because the vaccine works well, it is important to know if and when Medicare covers it.
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How Do I Protect Myself From Shingles
The best protection from shingles is vaccination. People can still get shingles after receiving the varicella vaccine but they are 4 to 12 times less likely to do so than if they haven’t been immunized. The vaccine is recommended for most people 60 and older.
Some people should not receive the vaccine for example, those with certain allergies or who are taking certain medications. A health professional can advise who should not be vaccinated due to contraindications to the vaccine.
People between 50 and 59 years can request the vaccine from their health professional.
Do I Need A Prescription For A Shingles Vaccine
Once you have a Medicare insurance plan that covers the shingles vaccine, youll need to find out whether a prescription is necessary. This is dependent on where you get vaccinated. You wont need a prescription if you get vaccinated at your doctors office.
Some pharmacies that provide vaccines do so under the standing order of a supervising physician. This is convenient for patients because it saves them a trip to the doctors office to acquire a prescription before receiving the vaccine. You may need to call your pharmacy to see how they handle shingles vaccine orders.
If your pharmacy requires a prescription, youll need to contact your medical provider first. They may want to see you in the office beforehand, but not always. Sometimes, the doctor may give you the shingles vaccine at your appointment.
Once you have the prescription in your possession, the remaining steps are pretty straightforward. Take the prescription to a pharmacy in your plans network to be filled. A pharmacist will administer the vaccine in their clinic area.
Its possible to save money on shingles vaccines with a SingleCare pharmacy savings card. SingleCare coupons can help uninsured or underinsured patients get shingles vaccines at a discounted price.
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Cdc Recommendation For The Shingles Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend Shingrix as the preferred vaccine to prevent shingles and other complications from the disease.
The CDC found that Shingrix was more effective than Zostavax. It recommends that you receive Shingrix, even if youve had Zostavax in the past.
The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to suit your needs.
How Are Cvs Pharmacy And Minuteclinic Different
At Pharmacy, vaccinations for adolescents through seniors are administered by a certified immunizing pharmacist. Age and state restrictions apply. No appointment necessary.
At MinuteClinic, vaccinations for children through seniors are administered by a medical provider. View wait times and schedule a visit online, or walkâin anytime.
CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic also at Target
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Uncommon Rare And Very Rare Adverse Events
Uncommon adverse events occur in 0.1% to less than 1% of vaccinees. Rare and very rare adverse events occur, respectively, in 0.01% to less than 0.1% and less than 0.01% of vaccinees.
Both HZ vaccines are safe with serious adverse events reported very rarely in immunocompetent individuals.
Recurrence or exacerbation of herpes zoster ophthalmicus following LZV vaccination has been reported very rarely, involving several cases world-wide following LZV immunization. Following a causality assessment of seven cases of HZO which were temporally associated with the administration of LZV, NACI concluded that there was insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the administration of LZV in individuals with a history of HZO. More evidence is required for further assessment of risk related to HZO recurrence in LZV recipients. At this time, there is insufficient evidence to assess the risk related to HZO recurrence following RZV recipients.
Who Should Not Get The Shingles Vaccine
If you are getting Shingrix®, speak with your health care provider if you have had a life-threatening reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine or to any part of the vaccine.
If you are getting Zostavax® II, speak with a health care provider if you:
- Have had a life-threatening reaction to any part of the vaccine including gelatin or neomycin
- Have an immune system weakened by disease or medical treatment
- Have active, untreated tuberculosis
- Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Women should avoid becoming pregnant for 3 months after getting Zostavax® II
There is no need to delay getting immunized because of a cold or other mild illness. However, if you have concerns, speak with your health care provider.
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Tips For Getting Vaccinated At The Pharmacy
You’ll no doubt remember if you’re due for your annual flu shot. But for other vaccinations, it’s a good idea to check with your physician about what immunizations are recommended for you based on your age and medical history.
Pharmacists in all states are allowed to administer a long list of vaccinations, but state laws varyfor example, you can’t get hepatitis vaccines at the pharmacy in New York. Also, in some states, certain vaccines require a doctor’s prescription. When in doubt, check with your pharmacist.
According to Catizone, the following tips can help getting your vaccinations at the pharmacy go smoothly:
What Happens When You Get The Vaccine
As mentioned above, there is one option for the shingles vaccine: Shingrix.
Shingrix, which contains no live virus, is a two-dose vaccine series given in the muscle of the upper arm. The second shot is given two to six months after the first. In clinical trials, it was effective in nearly 97% of adults in their 50s over 97% effective for people in their 60s and over 91% effective for those aged 70 and above. It remains at near 85% effectiveness in all four years following vaccination.18
Shingrix is recommended if youre age 50 or older and have no severe immune problems.19
Effectiveness does come with a cost: In studies, seven in 10 people experienced pain from the Shingrix vaccine, and nearly half have muscle pain or fatigue and some had headaches, shivering, fever and nausea.20 21The CDC suggests avoiding strenuous activities for two to three days after getting either Shingrix shot.
If have previously received Zostavax, you can consider getting Shingrix. The CDC says Shingrix was safe and immunogenic when given five years or later after Zostavax. The agency adds there is no data or theoretical concerns that Shingrix would be any less effective if given sooner. 21
Zostavax was discontinued in 2020 by Merck and is no longer available in the United States.
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Should I Get The New Shingles Vaccine
In general, PartnerMD strongly recommends the Shingrix vaccine for adults aged 50 and older. The Shingrix vaccine may or may not be recommended for you depending on how recently you received the Zostavax® vaccine and your personal health factors. Talk to your doctor to help you determine the best timing for your vaccination.
How To Get A Shingrix Discount Without Medicare
There are a few different ways to receive a discount on the Shingrix vaccine. SingleCares prescription discount card provides instant savings on many prescription drugs, including Shingrix. Medicare recipients cannot use SingleCare and Medicare coverage together, but they can choose to use whichever offers a better deal for them. For those who dont have a Medicare plan that covers Shingrix, SingleCare can provide a discount.
GSK, the manufacturer of Shingrix, offers apatient assistance program for those who dont have insurance coverage. However, there are income guidelines and other eligibility requirements in order to qualify. Those who are enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan may still be eligible for the program if their income falls below a certain threshold and theyve spent at least $600 on prescription medications through their plan during the current calendar year.
Lastly, you may qualify for financial assistance through a Medicare program called Extra Help. Extra Help can help Part D consumers lower their Medicare-related costs.
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Here’s What To Know Before You Go
Putting off getting your flu shot or other vaccines because you don’t have time for a doctor’s appointment? The next time you pick up a few things at the drugstore or grocery store, consider updating your vaccinations at the pharmacy.
Pharmacists are trained in immunization technique and are well versed in how to administer shots, according to Carmen Catizone, D.Ph., executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy .
“In fact, today, more patients are receiving their vaccinations from pharmacists than other healthcare providers,” says Catizone.
CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and other chains and some independent pharmacies offer more than the flu shotthey typically also administer other immunizations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , including vaccines against pneumonia, polio, shingles, Tdap , and varicella .
In addition, many also offer travel immunizations for meningitis, typhoid, yellow fever, and other diseases.
An added perk: CVS, Walgreens, and other chains offer loyalty programs that earn you reward points towards discounts on other store purchases. Sign up online or at the pharmacy counter.
Guidance On Reporting Adverse Events Following Immunization
Vaccine providers are asked to report AEFIs through local public health officials and to follow AEFI reporting requirements that are specific to their province or territory. In general, any serious or unexpected adverse event felt to be temporally related to vaccination should be reported.
For LZV the following AEFIs are also of particular interest and should be reported:
- Suspected transmission of vaccine-strain virus to a close household or occupational contact. This phenomenon has been documented following varicella vaccine but it is rare, and transmission has not been documented with LZV.
- Recurrent HZ following immunization of individuals with a history of HZ prior to immunization, noting the area of recurrence.
- Recurrent HZO following immunization of a person who has had a previous episode of HZO. If available, a vitreous fluid specimen should be sent to a laboratory with a request to determine whether the virus is the vaccine strain or wild type virus.
For definitions of serious and unexpected adverse events, refer to Adverse events following immunization in Part 2.
For more information refer to Reporting Adverse Events Following Immunization in Canada.
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Ask The Expert: Should You Get The Shingles Vaccine
If you suffered through chickenpox as a child, there is no doubt that you never want to experience that type of discomfort again. While its rare to get chickenpox twice, for many the chickenpox virus reappears years later in the form of another painful disease: shingles. In fact, there are approximately one million new cases of shingles each year. Drs. Alpana Goswami and Janna Lachtchinina, board certified internists, discuss the facts about shingles and the benefits of the shingles vaccine.
How Long Does It Take To Work
It takes time for your body to make enough antibodies to fight off germs and protect you from certain diseases.
Results from clinical studies of Shingrix showed that the recommended dosing schedule for Shingrix does cause an immune response.
How long Shingrix takes to work may not be the same for everyone. The timing for you will depend on your body chemistry. In general, you should be protected from shingles soon after the second dose.
Studies in animals showed that there was no risk with Shingrix during pregnancy. However, animal studies dont always predict the way humans would respond.
If youre pregnant or planning to become pregnant, wait until after youve had your baby to get the Shingrix vaccine. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns.
There havent been enough studies to show whether Shingrix appears in breast milk.
Until more is known, its best to wait until youve finished breastfeeding before getting Shingrix.
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Is The Shingles Shot Covered By Medicare
Original Medicare does not pay for the shingles vaccine. However, if youre enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan or have a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage, your shot may be covered. For vaccines covered under Part D , it is not recommended to get the shot through your providers office, as you may have issues with Part D billing.*
New Shingles Vaccine Available Without Prescription
The shingles virus affects one in three adults, or at least one million Americans a year, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, and theres a new vaccine that a local doctor said is more effective than a previous version.
Shingles is a virus that stays dormant in the body after youve had the chicken pox and reactivates years later. The most common symptom is a rash, but, b efore the rash develops, people often have pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop, according to the CDC.
A registered nurse with Always Caring Home Care Services for senior citizens said many patients complain about the pain.
I remember one patient that had shingles and the clothing on her body would be so painful that she would actually take off her blouse with nothing touching her because her pain would be so severe, Judy Mason said.
Shingrix is a new vaccine that protects against the shingles virus and adults 50 and older can get it at a doctors office or a pharmacy without a prescription.
Dr. Michael Simpson from the El Paso Dermatologist Center said, they recommend you get the new Shingrix vaccine because its like 90 percent effective than the previous vaccine which is only about 70 percent effective.
The CDC recommends adults 60 or older get two doses the Shringrix vaccine. Although people of all ages can get the shingles virus, the risk of shingles increases as you get older.
The cost of the vaccine is dependent on your health insurance.
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Shingles Vaccine Cost And Options
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox, the childhood disease. It remains in the person’s body after chickenpox passes and can reactivate later in life.
Once the virus reactivates, it travels to the skin where it causes blisters. Old age, poor immune function, and having chickenpox are risk factors for the reactivation of the virus.
The rash is the characteristic finding of shingles. It can appear on one side of the face or body. The rash contains blisters that will clear up in 2 to 4 weeks.
Before the rash develops, pain, itching, and tingling may affect the area where the rash will appear. These warning signs will appear a few days before the rash.
Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, and headache. Chills and an upset stomach are also common.
This disease can lead to serious complications. It can lead to eye problems such as blindness. Other complications include encephalitis, pneumonia, and skin infections.
In some cases, people can experience severe nerve pain after the rash has cleared. This type of pain can last months and even years after the rash passes. About 1 in 5 people may develop this symptom.
To reduce the risk of getting shingles, those at risk should get vaccinated. Shingrix and Zostovax are the two shingles vaccines available. Getting the shingles vaccine is a must as it’s the only way to protect against shingles.