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Why the Shingles Vaccine?

The Shingles vaccine. Rheumatoid Arthritis.

What is it, anyway?

Why take the shots when being treated with a biologic?

Varicella zoster virus (VZV)

This is the virus that causes chicken pox.

By the time the rash is gone, the virus has taken up residence

permanently in ganglionic nerve cells along the spinal cord.

There it remains dormant until later in life it reactivates and causes

herpes zoster, Shingles

 And may then lead to postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) among other neurologic disorders.

Shingrix is the two-dose vaccine

Ninety-nine percent of Americans born before 1980 will have had chickenpox. (CDC report). One in three Americans will have shingles. One in ten Americans will develop the nerve pain associated with shingles.

  • Having the vaccine when starting a biologic for your RA will prevent Varicella Zoster from reactivating.
  • Shingrix replaces Zostavax.
  • Shingrix is more effective.
  • You will need it even if you have had the Zostavax.

Your insurance may or may not pay for it. Medicare part D will pay for it, but there may be a copay.  Shingrix is recommended for everyone over fifty. It is not a live vaccine. It may be given during treatment with biologics. It is ninety percent effective in healthy adults. Sixty-eight to ninety-one percent effective in immune compromised adults. Shingrix, a two-dose vaccine. If there is a delay before the second dose, the course does not need to be restarted.

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