Publicly funded shingles vaccination has been available for many years for adults aged 65-70. Initially, the vaccine provided was Zostavax, which was a live vaccine given as a single dose. Protection decreased with time and by 8 years, very little protection remained. Zostavax is no longer marketed in Canada. In the last few years, the newer non-live shingles vaccine, Shingrix became publicly funded for the 65-70 age group. It is given as 2 doses, two-six months apart. We are still seeing excellent effectiveness 10 years after giving the vaccine. The likelihood of getting shingles increases with age, and 1 in 2 people will get shingles at age 80 and above. Vaccination is recommended for the public from age 50 but is not funded until age 65. For adults who are immunocompromised either by a medical condition or treatment, shingles vaccination is suggested from age 18.
Some private insurance plans pay for vaccinations, however, there are many adults who could benefit from protection who are paying out of pocket. Shingrix does not require a prescription and can be purchased at the pharmacy where a pharmacist can also provide the injection. As a catch-up for those aged 65-70 who did not have access to getting their vaccine due to COVID, the government is extending the publicly funded vaccines to those born in 1949,1950, 1951, and 1952. This means you can still get your complimentary Shingrix if you are turning 71, 72, 73, or 74 up until the end of December 2023. In 2024, the coverage will go back to just 65-70 years of age.
Click here for more information on the shingles vaccine and government coverage.
Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health. Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain, and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.