Employee & Community Health

ECH recommends new shingles vaccine

3/5/2018 by Dr. Robert M. Jacobson and Jennifer L. Brickley, RN

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Employee and Community Health (ECH) is recommending a new vaccine to protect against shingles. The new vaccine is called Shingrix®. Mayo Clinic recommends it for all who are 50 years and older. It's a two-dose series spaced at least two months apart. 

On average, the vaccine is 97% effective in preventing shingles. You should get this vaccine even if you have had a shingles outbreak before. Your risk for another outbreak is about the same as getting the first outbreak. 

Shingrix is an inactivated vaccine. It doesn't contain a live virus, so it can't cause problems for those with weakened immune systems. Mayo Clinic recommends you get this vaccine, even if you are immunocompromised. 

Shingrix is covered by Mayo Clinic Health Solutions insurance now. For other insurance plans, including Medicare, please check with them to make sure the vaccine is covered. Then call your clinic and make a nurse appointment to get the vaccine. If you have a scheduled appointment coming up, ask for the new shingles vaccine during your appointment. 

The old shingles vaccine, Zostavax®, was a live vaccine, so those who had problems with their immune system couldn't receive it. It was indicated for individuals 60 years and older and wasn't as effective as the new vaccine in preventing shingles. You should still get the new vaccine series, even if you already had a dose of Zostavax. 

Dr. Robert M. Jacobson is a primary care pediatrician in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM) and is the medical director of the ECH and Southeast Minnesota Immunization Programs. 

Jennifer L. Brickley is a registered nurse in ECH and is the program coordinator for the ECH Immunization Program.