Shingrix, the new vaccine from GSK is now available for prevention of herpes zoster (also known as shingles) and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), the most common complication from shingles. The vaccine is delivered in two doses with the second shot taking place two to six months following the first. For more information about shingles, chickenpox, and how vaccination works, click here to read a related article from our own Dr. Mark Petrizzi.
Why is this vaccine so highly anticipated?
The CDC states, “Two doses of Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and PHN. Protection stays above 85% for at least the first four years after you get vaccinated. Shingrix is the preferred vaccine, over Zostavax®, a shingles vaccine in use since 2006.” It’s important to note that Shingrix is a recombinant vaccine, unlike Zostavax®, which is a live vaccine.
Should I get the new shingles vaccine?
In general, PartnerMD strongly recommends the Shingrix vaccine for adults aged 50 and older. The Shingrix vaccine may or may not be recommended for you depending on how recently you received the Zostavax® vaccine and your personal health factors. Talk to your doctor to help you determine the best timing for your vaccination.
Are there any side effects?
Yes. You can expect some mild side effects for 2 to 3 days following each vaccination shot. Consideration of these side effects could also influence when you choose to have them administered.
- Solicited local adverse reactions in subjects aged 50 years and older were pain (78.0%), redness (38.1%), and swelling at the injection site (25.9%)
- Solicited general adverse reactions in subjects aged 50 years and older were myalgia/muscle aches (44.7%), fatigue (44.5%), headache (37.7%), shivering (26.8%), fever (20.5%), and gastrointestinal symptoms (17.3%)
What this means is that you will likely experience pain, redness and swelling at the injection site. You may also feel some cold or flu-like symptoms, including muscle pain. These will clear up on their own within a few days. But, with this in mind, you may want to plan for a weekend at home to recuperate rather than getting your shot the day before you kick off a vacation or play in a golf tournament.
How much does Shringrix cost?
Most insurances cover vaccinations and include Shingrix. Depending on the specific details of your plan, you may be asked to pay a co-pay. If you are on Medicare, vaccines are typically covered under the Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D). In this case, you may need a prescription from your doctor to have the shots administered by your pharmacist. Without insurance, the cost is $180 per shot at PartnerMD, with two shots required, so expect to pay $360 out-of-pocket here.
How do I get Shingrix?
We say this a lot because it is always good advice. Talk with your doctor about the Shingrix vaccine for shingles, whether it’s right for you, and when is the right time to plan for your first and second doses.
For more information about planning, prevention, and aging well, download our free guide to healthy aging.