Friday, July 24, 2009

Shingles vaccine recommended for retirees

The Centers for Disease Control does recommend a relatively new vaccine for Shingles for people over 60, and that would include retirees. The commercial name for the Zostavax.

I learned about the vaccine at my first Medicare Physical.

Medically, what happens is that once someone has had chicken pox, the herpes zoster virus goes into hiding in some deep spinal nerve ganglia, and can get reactivated late in life after a person’s immune function declines. The vaccine boosts immunity to reactivation.

People with HIV and T-helper counts below 200 should not get the vaccine.

The CDC link is here.

I tried the CVS Minute Clinic online and got an answer to the effect that CVS does not yet carry the vaccine, but was considering it. I found that a local “compounding” pharmacy, Preston CARE in Arlington VA, would give the vaccine for $68 including $38 copay (on top of AARP Part D) and $30 admin fee.

The vaccination is subcutaneous rather than inter-muscular.

Update: Aug. 2
Safeway stores (at least some) now have signs that they offer the shingles vaccine.

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