Patients, friends, families, we have some big news! A new vaccine to protect ourselves against herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles, has recently been released. Shingles is caused by a virus and appears as a rash with shooting pain. The rash eventually turns into painful, red, fluid-filled blisters. It usually shows up on one side of your body. Shingles can transform into a major complication known as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN)2. PHN is associated with severe pain in areas where they had the shingles rash, even after the rash clears up. This pain is often severe and can keep people from completing their normal daily activities for months. Patients over the age of 50 are more likely to get shingles,1 and their risk of developing PHN also increases with age2. Even if you have never had shingles in the past, it can appear at any time so it is extremely important to protect yourself as soon as possible. The main way to protect yourself is by receiving the shingles vaccine.
The new vaccine is called Shingrix. This vaccine has been approved by the FDA for all patients over the age over 50 to prevent shingles.3 According to the CDC, this new vaccine is 97% effective in protecting people in their 50s and 60s from the shingles and roughly 91% protection in those in their 70s and 80s.4 Shingrix also reduces the risk of PHN by 86%4. Due to this vaccine being so effective, it is recommended for patient’s even if you have had a shingles shot in the past. The previous shingles shot, Zostavax, was roughly 50% effective, so it is extremely important to receive this new vaccine to hopefully protect you from ever experiencing this painful, yet often preventable disease.
Shingrix is given in two separate doses. The injections must be given at least two months apart. This vaccine is an intramuscular injection given in the upper arm, which is the same method that flu shots are given. This vaccine is inactivated or “dead.” This means that more patients will be eligible to receive the vaccine than the previous vaccine that protected against shingles because it was considered a “live” vaccine. Though most patients are qualified to receive the vaccine, there are a few exceptions that may prevent you from receiving the vaccine. These include:
- Patients with a history of severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to any component of the vaccine or after a previous dose of Shingrix
- Patients who are immunocompromised. This includes patients with cancer, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, lymphoma, blood disorder, organ transplant, active tuberculosis or any other immune system problem. Though this vaccine may be effective in this patient population, there have not been adequate studies to prove this yet. The team at Bremo feels more comfortable waiting to administer this vaccine to immunocompromised patients until we have seen research proving it is safe and effective in these patients.
While we are excited about this vaccine and the potential to protect many of our patients from shingles, we want you to be aware of the side effects that may be associated with the injection. As with any injection, there may be pain, redness, and swelling at the site of injection in the arm. Other patients have reported fatigue, headache, shivering, fever, and upset stomach after receiving the vaccine.5
This vaccine is approved for patients over the age of 50 and is just one of many ways that Bremo Pharmacy is able to care for our aging and senior population. Check out these articles on medication safety tips for older adults and five ways to get your medications organized to further improve the health and happiness of our older adults and their loved ones.
We are offering this vaccine to all members of the community at all of our locations. We would be happy to run the vaccine through your insurance to see if it is fully covered or if there is a copay required. If you receive the vaccine, we will set a reminder in our computer system to give you a call after two months so you can stop by for the second dose so you can receive maximum protection.
Bremo Bonus- To save you time, you can fill out our screening form in advance and bring it with you when you receive the vaccine. Access the screening form here:
Call us today at 804-288-8361 x 120 or 119 for more information, to determine a copay amount, or to set up an appointment or clinic. Remember, vaccines take two weeks to work, so don’t hesitate getting your first dose right away!
- “What is Shingles and What Causes It?” WebMD. Accessed February 2, 2018. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/shingles/shingles-skin#2
- Shingles (Herpes Zoster). Complications. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed February. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/complications.html
- Shingrix. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Vaccines, Blood, & Biologics. Approved Products. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/ucm581491.htm
- “The New Shingles Vaccine: What You Should Know About Shingrix.” Diane Umansky. Consumer Reports. January 25, 2018. Accessed February 13, 2018. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM581605.pdf
- Shingrix. Package insert. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Available at: