New Shingles Vaccine: Why People Are Reluctant

Here’s a few reasons why it’s difficult to make adults get vaccinated.

When it comes to preventing the painful rash and blisters of shingles, a new vaccine has arrived that promises to be more effective at protecting people from these agonizing symptoms. But experts are still worried they’ll have difficulty persuading people to get the new shot.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the new vaccine called Shingrix in September 2017. Updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend Shingrix over an older vaccine, Zostavax.

“The reason why Shingrix was developed is because Zostavax just wasn’t as effective as it could potentially be,” Dr. Navjot Jain, an internal medicine specialist from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Healthline.

“Zostavax basically loses its efficacy by about 15 to 25 percent after one year, and after nine years it’s thought to no longer be effective. Shingrix is a new vaccination, but the studies have shown that its efficacy remains at about 85 percent four years after vaccination.”

It’s a promising development when it comes to preventing shingles, an ailment that will afflict about one in every three Americans during their lifetime.

But despite the fact that the risk of getting shingles increases as you get older, and older adults are more susceptible to complications from disease, only about 33.4 percent of adults 60 years and older reported receiving the shingles vaccine in 2016.

This rate is far lower than the childhood vaccine compliance rate for the measles, chicken pox, and whooping cough vaccines. Those vaccination rates hover between 83 to 91 percent nationally depending on the vaccine.

While Shingrix would seem to be a positive step when it comes to preventing shingles, there are a few factors that may stop people from getting the recommended vaccine including medical- record availability, the fear of vaccines, and the price of vaccines.

Obstacles to getting vaccinated

Despite the fact that the small, but vocal, group of individuals who oppose vaccinations remains strong, Jain says she hasn’t encountered much opposition to getting vaccinated among her patients.

“A lot of patients will actually come to me asking how they can get the shingles vaccination, so I actually have experienced the opposite,” she said. “There’s a very small percentage of patients, I’d say under 10 percent, that are very averse to getting vaccinations, though.”

Jain said that with these patients, their concerns often center around possible adverse effects from the vaccination, fears that they’ll contract shingles by getting the vaccination, or the belief that since they’ve never had the illness, they don’t need the vaccine.

“Another big concern that patients have is cost,” Jain told Healthline in March 2018. “Zostavax cost $213, and Shingrix costs about $280 out of pocket.”


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