My “You gotta be kidding me!” moment

Last month, I was in my doctor’s office, and at the end of the visit, I asked him if I should get the “shingles shot”, or varicella zoster vaccine. Since I was a year past my due date, of course he said “yes”. So I got the shot, and left feeling smug and righteous about being immune to another disease. I have seen senior citizens with post-herpetic neuralgia, the common complication of shingles in older folks, and I *really* don’t want that.

Then, last week, this comes out in the news:

…(A)n advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday recommended the use of a new vaccine to prevent shingles over an older one that was considered less effective.

The decision was made just days after the Food and Drug Administration announced approval of the new vaccine, called Shingrix and manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, for adults ages 50 and older. The panel’s recommendation gives preference to the new vaccine over Merck’s Zostavax, which has been the only shingles vaccine on the market for over a decade and was recommended for people ages 60 and older.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also recommended that adults who have received the older vaccine get the new one…Insurance companies must also agree to cover the cost of the vaccine, which GSK estimates to be $280 for two doses.

Given in one dose, Zostavax had shown a 51 percent reduction in shingles and a 67 percent reduction in nerve pain. Shingrix is given in two doses, and the company said clinical trials showed it to be about 98 percent effective for one year and about 85 percent over three years.

So, as soon as my insurance company will pay for it, I will be trekking back to my PCP’s office again, and rolling up my sleeve.