Shingles vaccine available, but expensive, and can be hard to find

Though it’s expensive and can be hard to find, a vaccine against shingles is now available to people 60 and up, and in some cases to those 50 and up. Until this year, the vaccine, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006, was only available to people 60 and older, The Courier-Journal‘s Darla Carter reports.

The painful, contagious rash, which is caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, affects about 1 million Americans each year. It usually appears on one side of the face or body and results in blisters, fever and pain. It can also result in permanent pain, a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia or PHN.
Though the FDA had approved the vaccine, “Some medical facilities are waiting until action by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before agreeing to provide the vaccine to people 50 to 59. The topic is expected to be discussed at the June meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which makes vaccine recommendations to the CDC,” Carter reports.
The vaccine can cost more than $200, must be frozen and isn’t always covered by insurance or Medicare. It is only covered through Medicare Part D, but not Medicare Part B. Many insurance companies are deciding whether or not to cover the vaccine pending the advisory committee’s decision.
At Kroger pharmacies, the vaccine is available without a prescription for people 60 and up, but younger patients need a prescription, Carter reports. Take Care Clinics and Walgreens pharmacies require that customers be 60 or older to receive the vaccine. (Read more)
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