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To get the "Shingles Vaccine", or not?
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To get the "Shingles Vaccine", or not?

I had my annual (senior) physical exam with my Primary Care.

We discussed possible "shots" I should consider including the Shingles Vaccine.  He said this is not covered by Medicare and I think he said it's about $250. I plan on checking with my private secondary health and prescription insurance plans to see if they cover anything.

I have seen some adds on television about how horrible Shingles can be, and that it seems to target us when we are in our senior years, especially if we were infected with Chicken pocks in our younger years.

I can not recall having Chicken pocks in the past, and must say (so far) I have a good immune system.  If I catch something going around I usually have a mild case of it.  My doctor said the Shingles vaccine is about 50% effective in seniors. So at best 50/50 it seems.  It seems to have low risk of dangerous or painful side effects.

As the vaccine is relatively new, 2006, the long term effects/benefits have not yet been observed.  I can also observe all those in the generation before me who died before the introduction of this vaccine, none to my knowledge ever suffered from Shingles.  
9 Comments Post a Comment
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875426_tn?1325532016
Shingles is indeed a bad experience and can have long-lasting consequences.  I saw a neighbor suffering the after effects of it.

But, if you never had the chicken pox, you don't want to get the shingles vaccine.  I don't believe you can get shingles before getting chicken pox.  

I have a sibling who has not had the chicken pox, which is why my folks have opted not to get the shingles vaccine (though they were going to be willing to pay the considerable cost of it even with Medicare assigned to HMO insurance), because according to what they learned, this would put my sibling at risk, I guess for getting the chicken pox.  
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612551_tn?1247839157
Interesting, but I can figure out how parents getting a Shingles shot would put a child at risk of getting Chicken pocks.  Is the younger still living at "home" and the vaccine makes the recipient a carrier of Chicken pocks?  
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875426_tn?1325532016
Yes, still living at home with parents.  And my parents looked into it pretty extensively and were thinking seriously of going ahead with them when they got stopped by the possibility they learned of- that it could put my sibling in jeopardy of contracting the virus which causes chicken pox. (Shingles same virus, herpes zoster, just takes on a different form if you've already had chicken pox in the past, as I understand it.)
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144586_tn?1284669764
It's a risk-benefit decision. Years ago I worked in medical marketing. You have to understand that drug companies make money off of vaccines and the pay physicians to encourage patients to take vaccines, particularly new ones.  This is not necessarily unethical. It's just the way things are. You will then be followed-up for reactions. Then there a host of possible side-effects. Are you the one to walk outside and get hit by the meteor today?
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875426_tn?1325532016
But you likely wouldn't have encouraged the doctor to push a shingles vaccine on someone who hasn't had the chicken pox, am I right?
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612551_tn?1247839157
I did not feel my doctor was pushing the vaccine, and he was careful to point out Medicare doesn't cover that, yet.

The problem for me is remembering.. i.e., if I had it it must have been mild, maybe that's more like not having it than like having it... ??
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875426_tn?1325532016
Ah, okay- I guess I had a different impression from your first sentence with the wording 'should' consider.  

You don't remember your mom or dad or a sibling or a grandparent, etc. ever mentioning you had chicken pox ?  Did they keep some kind of record in a baby book or something you could check?  If you had it as a young child, you'd likely have at least one chicken pox scar from the experience (I do).  Do you have any small round scars you can't account for how you got it/them?

If you have no evidence you ever had the chicken pox, it seems a risky thing to get the shingles vaccine to me.  

I wonder if you can get tested for immunity to chicken pox like you can the mumps?  I got tested when working at an HMO (think they took some blood) and found out the vaccination I'd had as a child had worn off and I was no longer immune.  But, once, I had gotten what I felt was a slight case of measles, and I think I tested immune to them- I think it may have been when I was in nursing school.
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Avatar_f_tn
Both my sisters had the Shingles , my older sister got it on her face and both eyes closed up. She was lucky she didn't go blind.
But ever since then you will see her itch her forehead she said its due to the Shingles it kills your nerve endings.
Every time I get a rash that comes to mind and don't know why its so darn expensive. Shame on Medicare !!!!
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612551_tn?1247839157
Sounds scary, painful, awful... I have not done anything. It isn't he cost that stops me, I'm just not "getting around to it"... and I think I never had Chicken Pocks.  As I approach 75 and the Obama death squad I consider the current Medicare a wonderful and blessed system.  If the roll out of the so called heath care bill continues I expect it to be hard to find any doctor who with treat me on what Medicare allows, if it allows at all.
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