Reader Question: How do I get a vaccination against shingles? From the pharmacy or doctor? And which vaccine will it be and is it reimbursed?
Shingles, equally known as herpes zoster, is a disease that can trigger a painful skin rash. It is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. After you recover from chickenpox (usually as a child), the virus continues to live in some of your nerve cells.
Shingles is most common in people older than 50.
The vaccine used in France to protect people from shingles (le zona in French) is Zostavax, an attenuated vaccine containing a larger than usual dose of the chickenpox vaccine. It is not suitable for people with immunosuppression.
Zostavax may be recommended to people over the age of 50, whether they have previously had chickenpox or not, in order to reduce their risk of developing shingles.
It is normally recommended to people aged between 65 and 74, who are given a single dose, with no need for a booster, potentially at the same time as their flu vaccine.
Shingles vaccines must be prescribed by a doctor but can be bought from a pharmacy before being administered either by a doctor or a nurse.
In some cases, you may be able to receive the vaccine in a public vaccination centre, in which case prescription, collection and injection would take place at the same time.
It should be kept at 2-8°C and should not be frozen.
People aged between 65 and 74 can have 30% of the cost of the vaccine reimbursed by Assurance maladie, but it will not cover any of the cost if you are outside of this age range.
The actual injection of the vaccine is always mostly covered by Assurance maladie and then a top-up insurance policy if you have one, no matter the age of the recipient.
You can check whether the vaccine is readily available, or whether there are shortages, through the Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé (ANSM) government agency website.