Department of Health & Human Services

Posted on: July 11, 2014

Low-cost shingles vaccine is available for eligible seniors.

Humboldt County seniors who want the shingles vaccine may be eligible for a reduced immunization fee through the Merck Vaccine Patient Assistance Program.

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Public Health staff members can help seniors apply for a subsidy for the Zostavax shingles vaccine, which is recommended for people 60 and older.

Applications for the patient assistance program for Zostavax are available at the Public Health Clinic, 529 I St. in Eureka. Appointments are required and can be made by calling the clinic at 268-2108.

There is a short enrollment process and applicants will know within an hour if they qualify for the reduced Zostavax immunization fee.

People may be eligible for the program if the following applies:

* They are 60 years of age or older.
* Their health insurance will not cover the Zostavax immunization.
* They have an annual household income less than $45,960 for individuals, $62,040 for couples or $94,200 for a family of four.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one in three people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime. Anyone who has had chickenpox may get shingles, though the risk of disease increases as a person gets older. About half of all cases occur among men and women 60 or older. Those with weak immune systems are also more susceptible to shingles.

Shingles usually starts as a painful rash on one side of the face or body, according to the CDC. The rash forms blisters that typically scab over in seven to 10 days and clear up within two to four weeks.

The Zostavax vaccine lowers the chances a person will get shingles, shortens and lessens the severity if shingles is contracted and prevents long-term pain that can occur after shingles.

For more information about the Zostavax immunization, call your health care provider. The immunization nurse at the Public Health Clinic is also available to answer your questions at 268-2155.

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