Wednesday, September 18, 2019


It even looks ugly, just typed there in the header.

Shingrix is the recombinant shingles vaccine that was approved for use in 2017.  After two doses, two to six months apart, the recipient is 90% protected from contracting shingles.  Zoztavax, the formerly recommended vaccine,  has a much lower prevention rate.

TBG had shingles.  Twice.  It was awful.  Karina Bland, my favorite Arizona Republic columnist, put off getting the vaccine and is now suffering with shingles on her face.  Both of my parents and TBG's dad had it, too.  None of them spoke of it with fondness.

The problem was finding the vaccine.  My gerontologist told me that it would be less expensive to get the shot at a pharmacy.  She didn't know why that was so.  Neither did the pharmacist at CVS yesterday.  She did have the vaccine, though, and that was progress.  I'd been looking for it for months. 

The billboard outside my grocery store welcomed me to come in and get the vaccine at their pharmacy every day, but they lied.  They never had the vaccine in stock, except one time when I ws brought up short by the pharmacist's question:  Are you on our list?

Apparently, they kept track of those who wanted the shot and called them when it was available.  The sign outside was the grocery manager's idea, not the pharmacist's.  From there, I began calling drug stores, only to hear no, sorry over and over again.

I asked about it when I picked up prescriptions.  I wondered about it when I stopped in to pick up toiletries.  I called ahead if I knew I was going out.  This stuff is in very short supply.  Months passed and I made no progress in tracking it down until yesterday morning, in Target, looking for a copy of Marvin K Mooney in their (surprisingly delightful, albeit quite small) kids' book section.  I came up short on the book, but Charla the clerk and Suesan the injector said they could protect me against shingles in 10 minutes.

I filled out the paperwork (there's always paperwork), paid for my Cetaphil and CeraVe, and returned to the counter in plenty of time.  I watched as Suesan filled the syringe with the contents of two vials, chattering up a storm as she mixed them.  I do that when I'm nervous, and she didn't mind..Finish telling me your story, she said as she swabbed my upper arm.

"Are there side effects?" I asked.  She put down the syringe and said "OH YES.  1 in 10 people feel vaguely flu-like.  Your arm may feel like I punched it.... HARD.  Are you feeling sick right now?"

Her words gave me pause, but I am bred of hearty peasant stock and felt sure I would escape the worst of it all.  A sore upper arm would be a small price to pay to avoid shingles.  The $164 for the first dose was a large price to pay, sitting in my deductible column, but nevertheless, I asked her to go ahead.

I felt fine.  I read to a kindergarten class after checking Ms H's lantana in Grandma's Garden.  I walked to The UV, sat down, and the symptoms started.  My arm was throbbing, and so was my head.  I drove home and lay down and felt that overall body ache that presages the onset of disease.  Except I knew this wasn't a disease.  It was my body reacting to the vaccine. 

My body was not happy, but I wasn't miserable.  I wasn't sick, so I didn't have to worry about why or what or which medication to take.  I would just let the aches run their course.... which I did.... until 3:30 in the morning when all hell broke loose.

I'll spare you the details. 

Suffice it to say that I texted Pilates Diva and cancelled my 9am appointment.  I told Scarlet I wasn't up to mah jongg this afternoon. Then, I wept. 

Having nothing to read I drove the mile to the library where I found 3 easy to read novels (think James Patterson and his ilk) which I checked out while wobbling on my feet.  The drive home was no fun at all, with my entire body screaming at me, wondering why it wasn't in bed.

I put it there, read a book, and ate a banana.  That gave me energy to share my woes with you.  Now, I'm going back to the couch, pulling up the afghan, and preparing to ride this out.

Dr. Google, this time on the CDC website says  About 1 out of 6 people who got recombinant zoster vaccine experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities.  Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.

The only thing I like about that information is the last sentence.  I must be younger than I think I am.


  1. When I had my 'wellness' checkup in August, I asked my doctor what he thought about the new vaccine. I'd had the earlier version. He said the clinic can't get it and mentioned what I'd already been told how it impacts people differently. I've also been told some have bad results from the first and not the second or the other way around. I've been figuring I'd wait until more have had it to see if there are any other drawbacks. One nice thing for the younger generation is they won't be getting chickenpox because of vaccines. Maybe shingles will die out. I know those who have had shingles but nobody close to me. If someone goes in right away with the first symptoms, it reduces how long it lasts. i hope your vaccine reaction passes soon and that you are one of those where the second isn't as bad. In one family, she got it worse the second time and he did the first time. They were in their 60s.

  2. The worst has passed. I'm not looking forward the next one.

    1. Oh, I thought you were writing about the second dose! I have heard from friends the second dose is almost impossible to find, and that the second dose causes all the things you just experienced. I've had two very mild cases of shingles because as Rain said, I got into the dr very quickly and was treated. The dr said I am of that small percentage who gets the virus multiple times and that a vaccine would really do me no good.

    2. Be sure you start to look for it earlier than it has to be since it seems it's in very short supply. That might change eventually. It'd be a shame to go through so much misery and not get the second dose to make it all for nothing. I wonder what makes this one so toxic for people. The other one had no side effects at all or I had none

  3. The comment function just sent my first attempt into the cybersphere. Grr.
    I had very little reaction to either shot, except for a VERY sore arm for nearly three days. The nurse told me that reactions to the first and second shot can vary greatly, even in the same patient. I hope your second shot produces less of a reaction for you. Still looking for some Shingrix for George....

    1. Try Super Targets. They are on a routine every 2 week delivery here in Tucson.


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