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Old July 1, 2010, 11:43 PM   #1
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[2010] Shingles Vaccine

Has anyone gotten the shingles shot? If so, did your insurance cover the cost? I've been thinking about getting the vaccine for awhile and my Dr. did recommend it. My 88 yr old mom just got shingles and she is miserable. I plan on making an appointment as soon as I get home next week to get the shot. Any pros/cons?
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Old July 1, 2010, 11:54 PM   #2
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I asked about it at the pharmacy in the grocery store where I shop. They said it would cost $200, I think, and they determined that my insurance (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) did not cover it. I didn't get it.
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Old July 1, 2010, 11:57 PM   #3
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I asked about it at the pharmacy in the grocery store where I shop. They said it would cost $200, I think, and they determined that my insurance (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) did not cover it. I didn't get it.
$200, yikes!
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Old July 2, 2010, 12:06 AM   #4
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$200, yikes!
I know! I was astonished at the price.
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Old July 2, 2010, 12:19 AM   #5
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My son (24 - yep, youngest case of shingles the doctor had ever seen) had it on his face and into his eye. It flared up six months after he had it initially when he was under severe stress.

I didn't know there was such a vaccine, but $200 seems cheap compared to what he went through. I guess it all depends on the odds though.
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Old July 2, 2010, 12:34 AM   #6
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Unfortunately, once you are past 60, the odds of having a case of shingles go up dramatically.
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Old July 2, 2010, 08:36 AM   #7
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I have Kaiser Insurance in Denver, and my doctor recommended it with no additional cost. I received the shot about 6 months ago - no reactions or symptoms.

My dad had a terrible case of shingles at about 85, so I was anxious to prevent that from happening to me.
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Old July 2, 2010, 08:50 AM   #8
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I had shingles about 3 years ago, and it was a very mild case, just on my shoulder toward my back, and it really didn't spread further. I wasn't at all miserable. I think I am now immuned to it? Is that wrong to assume? I have Kaiser, also, and I think if not immuned, Rick and I should get the shot. Rick should get the shot regardless.
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Old July 2, 2010, 08:58 AM   #9
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I got the shot and United Health Care paid for it. The doctor said that if we got a case, we would wish we had spent the $200. Having witnesses others who had a case, we agreed. We had to pay up front and wait for the insurance.
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Old July 2, 2010, 09:20 AM   #10
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I, too, have been thinking about getting the shingles vaccine. Does anyone know if it is a lifetime protection or, if not, how many years it is supposed to protect?

There have been two elderly people in my family who have had severe cases of shingles. My insurance probably will not pay, but the suffering my relatives went through was very bad, so might go ahead and just pay for it myself.
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Old July 2, 2010, 09:48 AM   #11
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Quote:
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I had shingles about 3 years ago, and it was a very mild case, just on my shoulder toward my back, and it really didn't spread further. I wasn't at all miserable. I think I am now immuned to it? Is that wrong to assume? I have Kaiser, also, and I think if not immuned, Rick and I should get the shot. Rick should get the shot regardless.

I don't think you can get immuned to it. I had a very mild case of shingles and my chemo nurses spoted it before it started to spread and I had to stop chemo for few weeks. I was given Valtrex and it cleared up fast. But after my stem cell transplant, I cannot have the vaccination. I have to take Valtrex (now I am on Acyclovir generic) for the rest of my life so that shingles will not appear again.
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Old July 2, 2010, 09:50 AM   #12
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The Mayo Clinic recommends the shingles vaccine for all adults over 60, even those who have already had it, so apparently I am not immuned because I had it once. That's scary.
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Old July 2, 2010, 09:52 AM   #13
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I don't think you can get immuned to it. I had a very mild case of shingles and my chemo nurses spoted it before it started to spread and I had to stop chemo for few weeks. I was given Valtrex and it cleared up fast. But after my stem cell transplant, I cannot have the vaccination. I have to take Valtrex (now I am on Acyclovir generic) for the rest of my life so that shingles will not appear again.
I guess we posted at almost exactly the same time. You are right! I need to get the vaccine. My aunt had shingles and was very miserable and couldn't sleep, with the rash all over her backside. I felt very sorry for her. I don't want to get it like that.
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Old July 2, 2010, 09:56 AM   #14
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I got it and had to pay my doctor $210. She wouldn't wait for reimbursement, but I did get it back as a covered benefit, Anthem Blue Cross HSA PPO. It is covered by them for over 60. I am trying to get my husband to get it and what a run around!
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Old July 2, 2010, 10:31 AM   #15
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Both of my parents and my older sister have had shingles. My sister was late 40s. So I checked into it 2-3 years ago shortly after it came out. Apparently when the manufacturer did its tests, it was on people 60 and older. So it is only approved for 60 and older. BS if you ask me, either it is safe or it isn't. I am 58 and wanted to get it 2-3 years ago, but Aetna won't cover till age 60. Yeah, I got the price of over $200 just for the vaccine and then a fee for the DR.
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Old July 2, 2010, 11:07 AM   #16
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DW has had shingles and it ain't pretty. We jumped through a bunch of hoops with my insurance carrier a couple of years ago when we turned 60. Finally got them to say they'd cover the vaccine as part of 'wellness'. It had to be special ordered. When it came in we were in Europe for a month and the vaccine got sent back. Long story shortened, we both have new and separate insurance carriers so I guess it's time to build a fire under them again to see if they'll cover it. I don't have a problem if they want me to pay up front as long as it doesn't just get 'credited towards deductible'. OTOH, if I had shingles, I'd gladly pay $200 or more to avoid the experience.

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Old July 2, 2010, 11:42 AM   #17
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this is interesting to me. I am posting based on my UNDERSTANDING, not based on FACT, so please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

It is my understanding that shingles is a form of herpes virus. For those of us who have had a case of chicken pox at some point in our lives, we now carry the virus, and can get shingles as well.

If this is true, what about the younger generations who aren't getting the virus, but getting vaccinated for chicken pox instead? Does that mean we gave them a vaccination for a virus now, and they will later have to have a vaccination for the virus that the first vaccination gave them?
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Old July 2, 2010, 12:51 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karen G View Post
I asked about it at the pharmacy in the grocery store where I shop. They said it would cost $200, I think, and they determined that my insurance (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) did not cover it. I didn't get it.
Not sure which Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy you have but I have Blue Cross/Blue Shield PPO and they did cover it.

Shot was very simple and my cost was zero.
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Old July 2, 2010, 01:49 PM   #19
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My hmo doctor suggested we get it and it was free. We did have to be put on a list as it was in short supply and waited almost 6 months before we were called. Although we were instructed about possible reactions none appeared and am happy we did it, I would get it even at $200.
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Old July 2, 2010, 02:41 PM   #20
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I got a shingles vaccine at the Safeway phamacy. My insurance (Aetna) covered it with a $25.00 copay - otherwise $200.00 and some. I was told my arm would be very sore, but it wasn't sore at all. Preauthorization was necessay.
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Old July 2, 2010, 03:46 PM   #21
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I got it and my insurance company (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) covered it. I think it's a new benefit for 2010 and only subscribers over a certain age qualify.
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Old July 2, 2010, 03:53 PM   #22
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I called Aetna and the vaccine is covered except for the $25 copay for the Dr's visit. Yeah.
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Old July 2, 2010, 04:43 PM   #23
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The nurse where I got mine, said I would need a booster in 5 years.
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Old July 2, 2010, 10:13 PM   #24
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the key is chickenpox...

Should you get the shingles vaccine? More so yes if you ever has chickenpox. If you have, you are more at risk for getting SHINGLES which is not fun. My wife's ins covered hers with a $25 copay and a small fee for administering the vaccine at a local pharmacy. I am on medicare and medicare does not cover it but my supplemental BC/BC did pay for it.

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Old July 3, 2010, 01:03 AM   #25
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Oh, a shingles discussion! This is definitely something that interests me. I published a paper last year in the journal Medical Hypotheses about varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes both chickenpox (varicella) and shingles (zoster.) [Short summary of the article: I proposed that varicella-zoster virus is the cause of many cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and that it causes Chronic Fatigue rather than shingles when it affects the nerves that control the internal organs. Shingles occurs when varicella-zoster virus attacks nerves that go to the skin.]

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is definitely a herpes virus. VZV is sometimes known as Herpes Virus #3. It is fairly similar to Herpes Simplex 1 (a.k.a. Herpes virus #1), which almost everyone has and which causes cold sores, and to Herpes Simplex 2, which causes genital herpes (but is actually one of the less common herpes viruses.) There are 4 other herpes viruses known to commonly attack humans, including Epstein-Barr (Herpes #4, which can cause mononucleosis) and Cytomegalovirus (Herpes #5.)

Herpes viruses are unusual in that they stay in the body forever and can cause infection more than once. VZV is a doubly unusual virus in that it commonly causes more than one type of illness. When people contract the virus for the first time, they get chicken pox. The virus then goes dormant in their body and can reactivate decades later to cause shingles. VZV can also cause some rare forms of brain and spinal cord infections. (About 95% of unimmunized adults in temperate climates have been infected with VZV, so having had shingles or chicken pox doesn't really make you more susceptible to brain infections than everyone else.)

People with shingles can give chicken pox to children who have never had the virus, but they can't directly give shingles to anybody.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laurac260 View Post
...It is my understanding that shingles is a form of herpes virus. For those of us who have had a case of chicken pox at some point in our lives, we now carry the virus, and can get shingles as well.

If this is true, what about the younger generations who aren't getting the virus, but getting vaccinated for chicken pox instead? Does that mean we gave them a vaccination for a virus now, and they will later have to have a vaccination for the virus that the first vaccination gave them?
Well, in temperate climates, almost everyone eventually catches chicken pox if they aren't immunized, so they'd be carrying VZV even if they didn't get the vaccine. More importantly, the chicken pox vaccine (brand name: Varivax) contains a weakened strain of VZV called the Oka strain. (I think it's named for the man who developed it, in Japan.) Generally, the Oka strain is incapable of making people sick. There have been a some cases of children with previously undiagnosed immune problems who have developed chicken pox after getting chicken pox vaccine, but it is rare. So, it is believed that children (with normal immune systems) who get chicken pox vaccine instead of having chicken pox will never get shingles, because their bodies will only carry the weakened, Oka strain of VZV instead of the "wild" strains that can cause illness. (This was a really good question, though!)

The bigger problem with immunizing children against chicken pox is that repeated exposure to chicken pox may help keep VZV under control in older adults, and therefore keep them from getting shingles. Now that fewer children are getting chicken pox, more adults are getting shingles. Shingles is generally a much worse illness than chicken pox. For this reason, some countries (such as the UK) don't recommend that children get the chicken pox vaccine. (Of course, another approach would be to give the chicken pox vaccine to most children and also give older adults the shingles vaccine, which is basically what the US is doing. The drawbacks to this approach are that it costs more and risks side effects from the vaccines.)

Zostavax, the shingles vaccine, also uses the Oka strain of VZV. However, it uses a much higher dose -- something like 14 times as many viral particles as in the chicken pox vaccine. This is the only difference between the two vaccines.
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