Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Shingles Vaccine

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Feb• 20•08

The USA Today reports on the development of a shingles vaccine. According to the article, “The vaccine reduced shingles cases by 51% in people given the vaccine vs. those given the placebo. Vaccination reduced the burden of illness, a measure of pain and discomfort, by 61%.”

So why aren’t people getting this vaccine? One reason is how the vaccine is paid for. The vaccine, priced around $150 by the manufacturer, is covered by the part of Medicare that pays for prescriptions, not doctor visits. That means doctors are not automatically paid for shots given in their offices. Some send patients to pharmacies to get the shots or pick up prescription vials, adding steps that may reduce use, Oxman says. Others stock and give the vaccine, but require patients to pay upfront and seek their own reimbursement.

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