Shingles Vaccine Available At Ford-Iroquois Health Department
Ford-Iroquois Public Health officials released information today regarding the availability of the shingles vaccine.
According to Cathy McEwen, Schools and Community Health Coordinator, the Zostavax vaccine is available for people 60 years of age or older and is a new vaccine developed to reduce the risk of shingles.
McEwen says shingles is a painful skin rash, often with blisters. It is also called Herpes Zoster. "Shingles is far more common in people 50 and older than in younger people," she said. According to Mrs. McEwen it is also more common in people whose immune systems are weakened because of a disease such as cancer, or drugs such as steroids or chemotherapy. At least one million people a year in the United States get shingles.
Information from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says people with shingles usually have a rash appear on one side of the face or body that lasts from 2 to 4 weeks. Its main symptom is pain, which can be quite severe. Other symptoms of shingles can include fever, headache, chills and upset stomach. Very rarely, a shingles infection can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis) or death. For about 1 person in 5, severe pain can continue even after the rash clears up. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia.
Mrs. McEwen said shingles is caused by the Varicella Zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. She indicated that someone who has had the chickenpox or who has had the chickenpox vaccine is not immune to shingles. "The virus stays in your body. It can reappear many years later to cause a case of shingles."
The CDC says some people should not get the shingles vaccination or should wait. These persons are those who: have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin or any other component of shingles vaccine; anyone who has a weakened immune system because of HIV/AIDS or another disease that affect the immune system, anyone who has treatment with drugs that affect the immune system such as steroids, anyone who is undergoing cancer treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy; anyone who has a history of cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma, anyone who has active, untreated tuberculosis, and anyone who is pregnant or might be pregnant.
A single dose of shingles vaccine is all that is required for immunization. Cost for the immunization is $155.00. Mrs. McEwen said individuals should check with their individual insurance carriers to see if the vaccine is covered under their plan. Medicare does not pay for vaccines so this would not be covered under Medicare. The health department will not be able to bill the insurance carrier for the client but will provide the client with a receipt that they can turn into their insurance carrier.