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Many Glad for Vaccine to keep away from Painful Shingles

Anybody who has had shingles knows the rash is painful.

However, there is a way to avoid it. The government last year approved a vaccine for shingles, and local doctors and pharmacies are providing the shots.

Kohlís Pharmacy and Homecare has vaccinated almost 700 people since it first began offering the shots in late summer at its Omaha-area stores.

Laurie Dondelinger, a Kohlís spokesperson said, "So many folks know how awful shingles is."

UNMC Physicians clinics in Omaha have given the shots since last year.

Children can get shingles, which generally starts as a rash on one side of the face or body, but it is more common in older people. That is why the vaccine is recommended only for people 60 and older.

The vaccine is effective said Dr. Kari Simonsen, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

However, it is not cheap. It costs $224 at Kohlís for people paying out of pocket.

The cost is comparable at UNMC Physicians, said Andrea McMaster, a spokesperson.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicare Part D will help cover the price of the vaccine. Some private insurance plans also facilitate cover the cost.

New vaccines tend to be costly, said Curtis Allen, a national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson. Research costs and other expenditures for bringing a new vaccine onto the market, are passed along to consumers, he said.

Only one manufacturer produces the shingles vaccine. The price most likely will drop as more manufacturers begin producing it, he said.

The virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles. According to the CDC, after a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays in the body.

The virus generally does not cause problems, but in a few people, it can come back, causing shingles. It typically recurs decades after a person had the chickenpox.

The rash starts as blisters that scab after three to five days, the CDC says. The rash generally clears within two to four weeks.

Before the rash develops, there is often pain, itching or tingling in the area where it will grow. Other symptoms can consist of fever and headache.

There are medications to treat shingles. The medications should be started as soon as possible after the rash comes into view.

 

 

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