A recent Kaiser Permanente study has shown that the shingle vaccine (Zostavax) reduces the risk of contracting the rash by 55% in patients age 60 and older. The study also found that the vaccine reduced the risk of ophthalmic by 63%. The vaccine costs about $150. All Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug) plans cover Zostavax, but may require a copayment. Medicare Part B, which covers some vaccinations, does not cover Zostavax. Some private insurance plans cover Zostavax.
If you develop shingles (whether or not you have received the vaccine), nerve blocks and epidural steroid injections can be very beneficial.
For more information on shingles, please look in our March 2010 archives.