Those who contract it say it is a miserable experience. And yet, most adults have yet to ‘roll up their sleeve’ for a new shingles vaccine (Shingrix) that a recent study claims is more than 90 percent effective.
Federal officials have recommended a new vaccine that is more effective than an earlier version at protecting older adults against the painful rash called shingles. But persuading many adults to get this and other recommended vaccines continues to be an uphill battle, physicians and vaccine experts say.
“I’m healthy, I’ll get that when I’m older,” is what adult patients often tell Dr. Michael Munger when he brings up an annual flu shot or a tetanus-diphtheria booster or the new shingles vaccine. Sometimes they put him off by questioning a vaccine’s effectiveness.
“This is not the case with childhood vaccines,” said Munger, a family physicianin Overland Park, Kan., who is president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “As parents, we want to make sure our kids are protected. But as adults, we act as if we’re invincible.”
NewsMax.com wrote, “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 treat more a million cases each year.”
So, if the vaccine is so effective and it can help roughly one million people avoid shingles…..why do so many adults pass on the shot? National Public Radio (NPR) took a look at that question in a recent online story.
Although shingles vaccination rates have inched upward in recent years, only a third of adults who were 60 or older in 2016 had received the vaccine, the CDC says.
Many adults seem to skipping other recommended vaccines, too. Typically, about 45 percent get the annual flu shot, and only 23 percent of those the CDC says should get the pneumococcal and tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccines are up-to-date with those immunizations.
In contrast, by the time children are 3 years old, typically more than 80 percent (and more than 90 percent, in the case of some vaccines) have received recommended immunizations.
Why the discrepancy between kids and grown-ups? Cost can be a big deterrent for adults who are considering some vaccinations.
The cost, according to the Journal for the American Medical Association (JAMA), is about $280 for a two-dose course. As MedShadow.org pointed out, “For seniors on a fixed income, getting any shingles vaccine might be a matter of budget over health.”
And some seniors may pass on the vaccine because they can’t recall ever having chickenpox when they were younger. However, the CDC writes that whether you remember getting chickenpox or not, you probably did!
Studies show that more than 99% of Americans aged 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they don’t remember getting the disease.
Share you thoughts on this new study, the new vaccine, and why so many adults fail to roll up their sleeves for a vaccine that is more than 90 percent effective. Do you believe it is the cost or is it something else? Generating meaningful conversations around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!