Monday, February 18, 2008

Shingles vaccine not being used

Once again, damn the formatting!  Researchers have discovered that the shingles vaccine, which is approved as an adult vaccination for those over 60 years old, is not being used.  Coverage rates have reached just 1.9% of that age group since it was licensed in May 2006.  Although shingles is painful, it only lasts for a week or two.  The major complication the vaccine addresses is the incidence of postherpetic neuralgia, overwhelming pain due to secondary presentation with VZV that can last years longer than the rash.

Various reasons have been given for the low coverage rates, including suspicion over any new drug (let alone the first adult vaccination to come
out in a long time.  In addition, the CDC has not yet published official recommendations on use of the vaccine
in MMWR and there is no program to subsidize its use to low-income persons like there is for childhood vaccines.  The vaccine also requires a cold chain, so people picking up theirs from the pharmacy are likely to unintentionally thaw it before finding someone that can inject them.  One doctor from Vanderbilt is looking into the possibility of training pharmacists in administering the shot to avoid at least this problem.


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