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Health Department Offers Low-Cost Shingles Vaccine to Adults without Insurance Coverage

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Shingles is a common infection in older adults, with one in three Americans getting the virus at some point in their lifetime. A vaccine is available, but its high-out-of-pocket cost can make it difficult for many seniors to get.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department has a grant to provide a limited number of shingles vaccines at its four county health centers for adults age 60 and over who are uninsured or underinsured. The vaccine will be given on a sliding-fee scale, based on the patient’s income and family size. Seniors with Medicare Part D have insurance coverage for shingles vaccine, and will not be eligible to receive it through this grant; however, seniors with any other form of Medicare coverage are considered underinsured and can receive the vaccine from the Health Department.

Those interested in vaccination can be screened further by health center staff when scheduling an appointment. Appointments will be taken on a first-come, first served basis as vaccine supply allows.

Shingles is a painful skin rash. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus remains in the body after a person has recovered from chickenpox and can reappear years or even decades later in the form of shingles.

The symptoms of shingles include: a painful, itchy rash that begins on one side of the face or body, fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach.

Shingles infection can lead to several complications. The most common is postherpetic neuralgia, which causes severe pain at the site of the shingles rash and can last for several years in some people. Other common complications of shingles include eye infections, pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation or death.

Even if you have had shingles, you can still receive the shingles vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease.

For more information on shingles, please visit http://www.nkyhealth.org/Fact-Sheets/Shingles.aspx.

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Media representatives should contact Emily Gresham Wherle at 859.344.5470 or Emily.Gresham-Wherle@nkyhealth.org, about any request or information before calling any other Health Department employee. Your calls and requests will be handled expediently with your deadlines in mind. Thank you for your interest and support in educating the community about public health issues.

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For statewide news releases, please visit the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.