Recommended Vaccines for You
April 23rd through April 30th, 2023 is World Immunization Week. As you age, the immune system weakens, making you more likely to develop an illness. Because of this, it is extremely important to stay up to date on recommended vaccines to ensure you are protected from certain illnesses. Those illnesses include influenza, COVID-19, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, shingles and pneumonia. While most vaccines are free through Medicare Part B insurance, both shingles (Shingrix) and Tdap (Boostrix) vaccines are covered by Medicare Part D and have been associated with a hefty copay in the past. However, as of January 1st of 2023, Medicare Part D is now required to cover the cost of both Shingrix and Boostrix vaccines for no cost to you. Talk with your local Lewis pharmacist today to see which vaccines you may be eligible for and whether or not you will need a prescription from your provider for the vaccination. Lewis pharmacists can also check insurance coverage to determine if there is any cost associated with vaccines.
Although it is important to be up to date on all vaccinations, those over 50 years of age should consider becoming vaccinated against shingles due to the immune system weakening with age. Some under 50 years of age may be eligible as well if they have disease states such as cancer, HIV, bone marrow or solid organ transplants, or if they take any medications such as long-term steroids, chemotherapy, or transplant-related medications. Others may experience shingles due to high stress in their lives. Shingles is a painful, blistering rash that can arise at any time in those who have had exposure to the chickenpox virus. Monitor for signs and symptoms of the virus and seek treatment immediately if shingles occur. Those at risk for shingles should remain in a low-stress environment and should consider getting vaccinated against shingles. Shingrix is most effective against shingles when two doses are administered. This means that you should receive a second dose within two to six months after receiving the first dose. Shingrix became available in 2017 and is over 90% effective against shingles, which is more effective than the previous vaccine, Zostavax. If you previously received Zostavax, it is recommended that you still receive Shingrix to further protect yourself from the virus.
Pneumococcal vaccines are recommended for those over 65 years of age to provide protection against a pneumonia infection. Those under 65 are eligible for pneumococcal vaccines if they have disease states such as diabetes, heart failure, liver or kidney disease, and sickle cell disease. Those with lung-related disease states such as asthma, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, and COPD should also consider getting vaccinated against pneumonia. There are currently three different pneumococcal vaccines known as Prevnar20™, Vaxneuvance™, and Pneumovax®23. Depending on your age, health conditions, and whether you have received any pneumococcal vaccines prior, your Lewis pharmacist can recommend a vaccination plan that will work best for you. You can help prevent pneumonia and improve your immune system through proper and frequent hand washing, a healthy diet, and exercising.
Dani Oelerking, PharmD
Lewis Drug and South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy Resident
Shingles vaccination: What everyone should know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/public/shingrix/index.html. Published May 24, 2022.
Pneumococcal vaccination: What everyone should know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/pneumo/public/index.html. Published January 20, 2023.
Causes and risk factors. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/pneumonia/causes.
Prevention. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/pneumonia/prevention#:~:text=You%20can%20take%20a%20few,your%20risk%20of%20getting%20pneumonia.
Shingrix (zoster vaccine recombinant, adjuvanted) for HCPs. Shingles Vaccine SHINGRIX (Zoster Vaccine Recombinant, Adjuvanted) for HCPs. https://shingrixhcp.com/.