CAMP HILL, Pa., March 29 (UPI) -- Officials at the U.S. drug store chain Rite Aid say more than 2,100 of the chain's 4,700 stores will vaccinate patients age 50 and older against shingles.
Robert Thompson, executive vice president of pharmacy for Rite Aid, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week expanded the age eligibility for the shingles vaccine -- Zostavax -- which previously was only approved for patients age of 60 and older.
"The new FDA recommendation means that Rite Aid pharmacists can now help a much wider range of patients protect themselves from this painful nerve disease," Thompson says in a statement. "The vaccine can often be administered to walk-in patients, making it an easy decision to get vaccinated against shingles."
Patients who want to see which Rite Aid drug stores are offering the vaccine can enter their Zip code at www.riteaid.com/shingles to find the most convenient location, Thompson says.
"Patients should call first to see if appointments are necessary and for the cost, which varies by insurance coverage," Thompson says.
Many health insurance plans including Medicare Part D cover the cost of the vaccine and a Rite Aid pharmacist can help patients determine the amount of coverage their plan provides, Thompson says.
The varicella-zoster virus, which typically causes chickenpox when patients are first exposed, can cause shingles later in life, leaving some in pain for months or even years.