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New service makes shingles vaccine easier
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 The CDC recommends the people who should get shingles vaccine:
• Anyone 60 years of age or older should get the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether they recall having had chickenpox or not. Studies show that more than 99 percent of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they don’t remember getting the disease. The safety and effectiveness of the vaccine were only studied in this age group.
• Even if one has had shingles, they can still receive the vaccine to help prevent future occurrences.
Some people should not get shingles vaccine:
• A person who has ever had a life-threatening or severe allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of shingles vaccine. 
• A person who has a weakened immune system.
• Women who are or might be pregnant
• Anyone with a moderate or severe acute illness should usually wait until they recover. This includes anyone with a temperature of 101.3° F or higher.
For more information about Zostavax or shingles, contact a physician or the Barton County Health Department at 1300 Kansas Avenue, Great Bend or call 620-793-1902, or call the CDC at 1-800-232-4636 or visit

Shingles is a painful, debilitating disease, one that particularly attacks those 60 and older. There is a vaccine, but it is costly.
However, a new web portal makes getting the Zostavax vaccine easier, said Janel Rose, public health educator for the Barton County Health Department.
Shingles springs from dormant remnants of chickenpox virus in people’s systems from their childhood. The Centers for Disease Control reports there are about a million new cases each year.
The best solution to preventing shingles is to get the vaccine  if one are age 60 or older. However, Rose said, the one-time dose can cost $200.
For the elderly, this is a problem. “Not knowing if it was covered completely or only partly was a barrier to getting the vaccine for seniors who live on a fixed income,” Rose said.
The good news is that a new web-based portal system has been developed to help providers easily determine what amount will be covered by Medicare Part D insurance coverage for anyone over age 65. Many insurance companies now partially or wholly cover the cost of the vaccine.
“The main reason we wanted to call attention to it now was because we are now able to use the portal to access insurance information for seniors so that they know before they get the vaccine what it will cost them, instead of them paying for the vaccine and waiting ,” Rose said.
Barton County Health Department is a participating provider and can help anyone determine what insurance will and will not cover. Anyone interested in getting Zostavax can stop by Barton County Health Department with their insurance information.
Shingles is a painful usually blistering skin rash that can result in pain that lingers for months or even years, and other serious complications, Rose said. It is not contagious but almost one in three Americans will develop it in their lifetime. As people age, the risk is greater.
According to the CDC, the vaccine was licensed in 2006. In clinical trials, the vaccine reduced the risk of shingles by 50 percent.
Mild side affects may include redness, soreness, swelling, or itching at the site of the injection or headache, the CDC notes. Severe reactions may include fever. Other signs of a serious reaction can include difficulty breathing, weakness, hoarseness or wheezing, a fast heart beat,hives, dizziness, paleness, or swelling of the throat.
Janel Rose, Barton County Health Department, 1300 Kansas Avenue, Great Bend, KS  620-793-1902