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There’s a New Shot to Prevent Shingles. Have You Heard of it?

If you’re anything like us, blisters and burning pain are something you’d like to avoid. So, you might want to read on and find out about the new Shingrix vaccine.

Blisters and burning pain? OMG - what is shingles?

Shingles is a disease caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. The most common symptom is a very painful blistered rash. It usually wraps around one side of the torso but can appear anywhere. And it can last up to four weeks. It isn’t usually life-threatening, but it can be very unpleasant. Sometimes shingles causes a complication called postherpetic neuralgia. PHN affects nerve fibers and skin. It causes burning pain that can last between months and years after the rash and blisters disappear.

Wow, that sounds unpleasant. Can I get shingles?

Anyone who has had chickenpox can get it. The varicella zoster virus, which causes chickenpox, can remain in the body and reappear later in life as shingles, also called herpes zoster. It is more common for older adults and people who have weakened immune systems to get shingles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three adults will develop shingles during their lifetime.

And, although you can’t catch shingles, someone with shingles can pass the virus to a person who hasn’t had it and they could develop chickenpox.

Okay, I definitely don’t want all that. Is there a shot to prevent shingles?

There are now two vaccines for shingles. Until recently, the only vaccine was Zostavax®. But last year, The Food and Drug Administration approved the Shingrix vaccine.

Shingrix, given in a series of two injections two to six months apart, is now the CDC’s preferred shingle vaccine for healthy adults over age 50.

That’s good news, but how well does Shingrix work?

Studies show people who get both doses of Shingrix have a 90 percent chance of avoiding shingles and complications like PHN. Zostavax is about 50 percent effective.

That’s great! Does Shingrix have any side effects?

The shingles vaccine's side effects are minimal. The most common side effect is pain from the injection. Some patients report symptoms such as fatigue, muscle soreness or a headache. Reported symptoms were mostly mild and went away two to three days after the injection.

Should I get the Shingrix vaccine for shingles?

The CDC recommends the Shingrix vaccine as the preferred shingle vaccine for healthy adults 50 years or older. Even if you have had shingles, received Zostavax, or are unsure about whether you have had chickenpox, you should ask your doctor about Shingrix.

Does HAP cover Shingrix?

HAP covers both injections of Shingrix once per lifetime as long as they’re given within the correct time frame.

How do I get Shingrix?

You can get the Shingrix injections at most doctor offices or pharmacies. Shingrix is a two-injection series. It’s very important to get both doses of Shingrix for full protection against the infection. Following the first dose of Shingrix, the second dose should be given two to six months following the first dose.

If you receive the Shingrix vaccine for shingles, mark your calendar to return to your doctor or pharmacy for the second dose two to six months following the first injection. Better yet, schedule your visit for your second dose before you leave the doctor’s office or pharmacy.

What if I have another question?

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