Aging Options

Your health: the younger, the better when it comes to shingles vaccine

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A recent article on the website cites an evidence review from the Cochrane Library that seems to indicate that the shingles vaccine works best if you get it before age 70.  Shingles, also known as herpes zoster or zoster, is an extremely painful skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.  The vaccine has a nearly 50 percent effectiveness but it’s most effective for individuals 60-69 years old as younger individuals have stronger immune systems.

Shingles can develop into a chronically painful condition that is difficult to treat.  Nearly one out of every three people in the U.S. will develop shingles.  Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox (an estimated 90 percent of the population) can develop shingles.  Although anybody of any age can get shingles, about half of all cases develop in men and women who are 60 and older.

All Medicare Part D plans cover the cost of the shingles vaccine according to the Center for Disease Control, although your out-of-pocket expense will vary.  Medicare Part B does not cover it but private insurance might.

Shingles is one of four vaccines that individuals over 60 should get as part of regular preventative health care.  The others are: flu, pneumonia and tetanus.

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