Update on Shingles Vaccine in Canada

Spring 2010 CSANews Issue 74  |  Posted date : May 27, 2010.Back to list

Last fall, the Canadian government approved the sale in Canada of the new vaccine Zostavax to help prevent shingles (herpes zoster). Although not 100% effective in preventing the illness, it reduces the intensity and duration of shingles pain in cases that do occur. Even though there is an antiviral drug that can be prescribed to help reduce the severity of shingles if taken immediately upon outbreak of the typical rash, this is the first vaccine developed to help prevent the disease.

Other than persons with certain medical conditions, Zostavax is recommended for immunization of individuals 60 years of age or older. A single injection has been shown to have few side-effects and to last for at least four years, possibly longer.

Unfortunately, as reported by many CSA members, the vaccine is still not widely available. A review of many doctors' offices reveals that they have not stocked the vaccine. The reasons have included the fact that the vaccine must be constantly kept frozen at -15 degrees centigrade or lower (although a refrigerator's freezer compartment with a door is adequate), the lack of demand and the cost, which is about $190.00 and not covered by provincial health plans.

For those who want the vaccine, some public health units and most travel health clinics are offering it. The manufacturer Merck/Oka, distributors of the vaccine in Canada, has a website www.zostavax.ca which lists available sites at which the vaccine can be obtained.

For those interested in helping to avoid this serious infection or its long-term risks, some due diligence in getting the shot may be required!

Related links
Shingles - No Need to Suffer!