The short answer is yes. If you are over 50 years old, the new “Shingrix” vaccine is needed, even if you previously received the currently available shingles vaccine Zostavax.
The excitement in the medical community is well-founded. Large trials have shown that the vaccine prevents more than 90% of shingles cases. The currently available vaccine called Zostavax, only prevented about 50% of shingles in individuals over 60, and is even less effective in elderly patients.
Most older Americans have the Varicella Zoster Virus in their system. This virus is responsible for shingles. We acquire the virus in our childhood when we develop chickenpox. The virus stays dormant for years and for reasons still unknown, it becomes active in later life, erupting on the skin in causing debilitating pain called post herpetic neuralgia commonly called shingles.
GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical begin shipping the vaccine in early 2018. Unfortunately, Shingrix requires two doses administered at least two months apart. Although it does cause some redness or swelling in the arm, it only lasts for a couple of days. Medicare will cover Shingrix under Part D, and not under part B like the flu vaccine. For that reason, Medicare patients will find it more cost-effective to get the vaccine in a pharmacy.
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