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Research Article

Herpes Zoster Vaccine Effectiveness against Incident Herpes Zoster and Post-herpetic Neuralgia in an Older US Population: A Cohort Study

  • Sinéad M. Langan mail,

    sinead.langan@lshtm.ac.uk

    Affiliation: Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom

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  • Liam Smeeth,

    Affiliation: Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom

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  • David J. Margolis,

    Affiliation: Department of Dermatology and Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States of America

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  • Sara L. Thomas

    Affiliation: Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom

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  • Published: April 09, 2013
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001420

Reader Comments (2)

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Low vaccine usage

Posted by cacg on 10 Apr 2013 at 16:13 GMT

One reason seniors are not taking advantage of the vaccine is because many insurance providers will not pay for the vaccine. I had this experience. I went to my family physician to get the vaccine. I was given a prescription for the vaccine and told to go to my local pharmacy, get the vaccine, and bring it back immediately as the vaccine had to be given within 30 minutes of receiving it. At the pharmacy when I was told the vaccine was ready I was told it would be $186. I asked about it going on my insurance and was told that insurance won't cover it. I went ahead and charged it, but I felt like I had been held hostage.
When I received my statement from my insurance company I saw that I was being charged as if my doctor's office had provided the vaccine. I called my doctor's office to say that I had paid for the vaccine, and they took it off. I called my insurance company to ask why would they be willing to cover the vaccine if my doctor's office had actually provided the vaccine, but not when I did from the local pharmacy. They told me to submit a claim form, which I did. I went through three levels of appeal, but to no avail. I have since heard from other seniors who have said that they had to pay close to $200 for the vaccine the same way I did because their insurance would not cover it.

No competing interests declared.

RE: Low vaccine usage

sineadlangan replied to cacg on 11 Apr 2013 at 12:29 GMT

Thank you for sharing your experience getting the zoster vaccine. The scenario you provide clearly highlights some of the reasons for the very low uptake of this vaccine, including the cost of the vaccine, storage requirements in physicians’ offices and issues relating to reimbursement.[1,2] Major work is required to increase vaccine use, including identifying mechanisms to make the process more straightforward.

References
1. Hurley LP, Lindley MC, Harpaz R, Stokley S, Daley MF, et al. (2010) Barriers to the use of herpes zoster vaccine. Ann Intern Med 152: 555-560.
2. Lu PJ, Euler GL, Jumaan AO, Harpaz R (2009) Herpes zoster vaccination among adults aged 60 years or older in the United States, 2007: uptake of the first new vaccine to target seniors. Vaccine 27: 882-887.


No competing interests declared.