Shingles Vaccination Update

Shingles Vaccination Update

By Ronald Wolf, Writer-Editor, Office of the Surgeon General/Medical Command

TRICARE open season
Open season is an annual period when you can enroll in a health insurance plan for the next year. With TRICARE, open season will occur each fall, beginning on the Monday of the second full week in November to the Monday of the second full week in December.

During Open Season, you can:
• Enroll in a new TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select plan
• Change your enrollment (e.g., switch from individual to family enrollment)
• Enroll in a FEDVIP vision or dental plan (for certain categories of beneficiaries)
If are not enrolled in TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select, you will not have TRICARE coverage and only be eligible for space
available coverage in a military hospital or clinic.

Thinking about changing plans? Visit the Compare Plans page for a side-by-side plan comparison at https://www.tricare.

In the last issue, we included a reminder for Soldiers for Life to ask about vaccines for shingles. The vaccine is recommended for everyone over 60 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but approved by the Food
and Drug Administration for those over 50.

A newer vaccine, Shingrix, is now available and is considered to be more effective and longer lasting. The CDC recommends Shingrix for shingles and related complications. Usually, two doses of Shingrix are needed with injections 2 to 6 months apart for adults aged 50 years or older.
You should consider being vaccinated with Shingrix even if you have already been vaccinated with the current vaccine Zostavax. Studies have shown that the effectiveness of Zostavax wanes over time. If you have previously had a Zostavax vaccine injection, discuss with your physician whether you should and how soon you can receive a Shingrix vaccination. You should wait at least 8 weeks after a patient received Zostavax to administer Shingrix.

One thing: check at your health care facility about availability of Shingrix.
Demand is high, and some temporary shortages have been reported.
To recap, shingles is a painful rash that usually develops on one side of
the body, often the face or torso. It is caused by the same virus that causes
chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus becomes
dormant in the body and can stay dormant for decades.

During a shingles outbreak, a rash consisting of blisters forms; it usually fades away in 2 to 4 weeks. The problem with shingles is the nerve pain that may last for months after the rash goes away. The pain can be deep and intense, and most over-the-counter pain killers have little effect. Over time the nerve pain will diminish, but that process can be slow and especially frustrating.

Most people who develop shingles have only one outbreak during their lifetime, but you can have shingles more than once.
Vaccinations are an important tool in maintaining health and readiness for all ages. The vaccine for shingles is important vaccine. Even if you’ve already been vaccinated, ask your physician what he or she recommends.


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