A few vaccinations to consider

Most of you will be getting a flu vaccine this fall. Consider getting it soon, as there have been outbreaks already around the world  (remember the travelers from the Hajj earlier this month here  http://time.com/5390162/airline-illnesses-hajj-mecca/). For patients over 65, there are two vaccines that may provide additional protection by increasing the antibody response. These included the FLUAD vaccine and HIGH DOSE flu vaccine. You can find both at your local pharmacy.  We have the FLUAD vaccine available in our office now, and have ordered the HIGH DOSE vaccine as well. Check with us on availability before coming in. For those of you under 65, the seasonal Quadrivalent flu shot (covers 4 strains) will be the right choice. This is also available in our office by appointment. High Dose and FluAd vaccines cost a bit more and cause a little more in the way of sore shoulders. As you all know, the flu vaccine is far from perfect but is the best protection we have (other then staying away from sick, coughing humans for the next 6 months). 

The other vaccine that should be considered by anyone over 50 is the new shingles vaccine, SHINGRIX. This vaccine does NOT use live virus as did the older Zostavax, and appears to be much more effective; in the range of 90-99% protection from this dreaded and common complication of chicken pox, which may occur decades later. Shingrix has been out for about a year and has been in short supply much of this last year. It is given as two vaccine shots 3 to 6 months apart (I’d advise 6 months, as the side effects from this vaccine are a bit worse, mostly sore shoulders). Medicare has put the vaccine on it’s PART D coverage, so unlike the flu shot and pneumonia shots, it must be given in your pharmacy for coverage. In the past, we gave shingles shots mostly after 60 and I probably will get mine next year (when I turn 60) though it is reasonable to receive it any time after 50. 

Stay safe and healthy out there and enjoy the fall weather! 
James J. Biemer, MD

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