90%-Plus Effective New Shingles Vaccine Costs $280, Takes 2 Shots

90%-Plus Effective New Shingles Vaccine Costs $280, Takes 2 Shots


A new shingles vaccine has shown to be more than 90 percent effective in adults at least 50 years old, but its cost of $280 may be holding down vaccinations.

Shingrix was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last fall, Kaiser Health News reported, and is given in two doses to adults 50 and over.

In clinical trials, the drug proved to be 96.6 percent effective in adults 50-59 and 91.3 percent effective in adults 70 and over, Kaiser Health News said.

The old vaccine, Zostavax, is 70 percent effective in the 50-59 age group and 38 percent effective in the 70 years and over category. Its cost is $213.

Kaiser News said that while shingles vaccinations have increased over the years, still only one-third of adults 60 and over received the less effective Zostavax vaccine in 2016.

Another reason for a low rate of vaccination could be patients’ ambivalence about shingles.

“I’m healthy, I’ll get that when I’m older,” Dr. Michael Munger, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told Kaiser Health News he often hears from adult patients about the new shingles vaccine, or other shots.

“This is not the case with childhood vaccines. As parents, we want to make sure our kids are protected. But as adults, we act as if we’re invincible,” said Munger, who is a family physician in Overland Park, Kansas.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in three people in the U.S will develop shingles, also known as herpes zoster. The agency said anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles and doctors threat more a million cases each year.

The CDC said the varicella zoster virus that causes chickenpox stays dormant and reactivates years later, causing shingles.

“I’m always asking patients, ‘Did you get all the doses in the series?’ ‘Where did you get them?'” Dr. Laura Riley, vice chair of obstetrics at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, told Kaiser Health. “It can be very challenging to track.”

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