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Shingles And Seniors – An Observation

Fraser Valley (Opinion by FVN’s Editor Don Lehn) – Gale Detta, the President of the Senior Citizens Association of British Columbia is speaking out on the cost of the shingles vaccine for seniors.

And it’s about time too!

In my own little world, I have a number of people who are not just seniors (my Dad is 88 and suffering from Shingles) I know of others who range from age 35 to 55 that are also suffering with this very painful condition.

In the past, shingles use to be the plague of the over 65 set. In fact on the Fraser Health website:

Shingle​s is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. In shingles, the virus is reactivated in nerve cells. It is estimated that 15-28% of people will develop shingles at some point in their life. People over the age of 65 are more likely to get shingles. More people have been getting shingles in recent years. A smaller proportion of the people who develop shingles need to be hospitalized because of effective new antiviral medications. shingles vaccine was approved for use in Canada in 2008. BC does not yet have a publicly-funded shingles vaccine program.

That last line is what gets me.

Shingles (and diabetes) are for the most part, not covered by medial plans directly (some private health plans will cover medications). The vaccine for shingles in BC as of 2017 is usually $208 with a $20 dispensing fee. I found this out last August when my Dad came down with the painful blisters and told me in no uncertain terms, “Son, here’s the money, go get the shot.”

Back to the Senior Citizen’s Association and their published statement that Shingles usually appears as a painful rash that lasts two to four weeks, but may include fever, headache, nausea and chills. It’s most common in people over 50 (and those with compromised immune systems).

Watching my Dad rock back and forth in agony is what kills me.

I have a neighbour who has had shingles since she was 35. That was 20 years ago. Add to her frustration, she is HIV positive.

Ask around, and you won’t have to do too much investigating to see how many people have or had shingles and how young they are. Insult to injury, shingles can come back.

The problem with the cost is that unlike my Dad, other seniors may not have the financial resources to easily drop that kind of money.

Fixed income is still fixed income.

As our population (the baby boomers and yes I am one of them) gets older, we need to address health concerns with some serious cash. Perhaps this should be an election issue. I’m not hold my breath.

For the record, MSP, the Medical Services Plan of B.C. covers about two dozen vaccines, including the varicella vaccine for chicken pox, but not the zoster vaccine. It is effective in about 60% of cases. Fraser Health says that 1 in 3 people will get shingles in their lifetime.

This is what you can expect:

shingles lesions

person with shigles



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