Board of Health offering limited supply of shingles vaccines

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The Winchester Board of Health has a very limited supply of shingles vaccine for older adults who would like protection against the debilitating condition. The single-shot vaccine is being offered to Winchester residents who are 60 or older and either have no medical insurance or have insurance that does not pay for the vaccine. Medicare Part B does not cover the cost of the vaccine, but the Medicare Part D prescription plan will cover the shingles shot at your doctor’s office or a pharmacy. Shingles is an agonizing, blistering skin rash that is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, and is particularly common in older people. It is estimated that 1 million cases of shingles occur in the United States each year. The vaccine being offered by the Board of Health is recommended for individuals whose immune system is not weakened as a result of treatment with high doses of steroids, cancer treatment with chemotherapy or radiation, HIV/AIDS, or a history of cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma. To be eligible for the vaccine, individuals cannot be currently undergoing treatment for shingles or residual pain from shingles, or have previously received a shingles shot. In addition, individuals cannot have a life-threatening allergy to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin. There is a $20 administration fee for the shingles vaccine. The shingles shot is available by appointment only. To reserve a dose or to determine eligibility, call the town’s public health nurse, Kathy Whittaker, at 781-721-7121.

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