July 16, 2018
Health & Fitness
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What Is Shingrix And Is It Right For Me?

Marcus LaChapelle
Marcus LaChapelle's picture
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March 6, 2018

Lately at the pharmacy counter, I have been getting many questions about the new shingles shot. It is called Shingrix, not to be confused with the old shingles shot Zostavax. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just came out with January 2018 recommendations for the use of herpes zoster (shingles) vaccines. The CDC uses a committee of health professionals (ACIP) to evaluate effectiveness, side effects and cost for all available vaccines. This report contains the answers many of you seek. The full version is available online at www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6703a5.htm. I will try to answer the most common questions I get from the report.

Should I get the new shingles shot? For patients over the age of 50 with good immune systems, the new vaccine is preferred. Studies have shown that Shingrix is more effective than the old vaccine, and the effectiveness lasts longer. In clinical trials, the new vaccine was up to 97 percent effective versus about 51 percent for the old vaccine. The vaccine is aimed at preventing not only shingles cases but also the severe aftermath of shingles, called postherpetic neuralgia. Studies are ongoing for patients with compromised immune systems.

What if I already had the old shot? Since the effectiveness of the new shot is so much greater and lasts longer, it is recommended to get the new shot even though you may have received the old shot, especially if it has been five years since your last shot. The old shot has shown waning effectiveness after four years.

What if I already had shingles? You can and should get the new vaccine to prevent a future case since shingles can recur. You should not get Shingrix or any shingles shot while you have an active infection. Once the shingles case has healed, you will have some natural immunity, but that can wear off after 12 to 18 months.

What if I never had chickenpox or I can’t remember? The new shot is recommended regardless of chickenpox history.

How do I get the shot? The new shot is an intramuscular injection given in the upper arm. It requires two shots, the second shot given two months after the first. Your local community pharmacist can give you the shot.

Who covers the shot? Medicare D covers the shot for most patients over age 65, but co-pays vary. Private insurance also has varying coverage. Your local community pharmacist can help you determine your coverage.

Marcus LaChapelle, the second-generation owner of Broadneck Pharmacy, has worked for his family’s business since childhood and holds a PharmD from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Broadneck Pharmacy is located at 269 Peninsula Farm Road in Arnold and can be reached by calling 410-544-3733. For more information, visit www.broadneckrx.net.


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