The shingles vaccine offered by the Pulaski County Health Department is flying off the shelves, and Health Department Manager Terri Hansen requested an appropriation from the county council in the amount of $6000 to continue purchasing the popular vaccine as well as that for hepatitis B. Hansen told the council that they gave their last shingles shot this week, after giving an average of about 10 shots per month to county residents.
“We have been giving a lot of shingles vaccines to people over the age of 50. Most of the local doctors here have been recommending that to their patients, and we have been, I’d say, getting rid of at least 10 shingles vaccines a month – and they’re quite costly. They’re $175 each, and we’re not making money on them, but it is a great community service so we’re amazed at how many people are continuing to call and they’re always on a waiting list for this vaccine,” said Hansen.
Hansen explained that the county is currently one of very few providers of the shingles vaccine, due in part to its hefty cost and relatively short shelf life of six to nine months. She said the health department decided just a few years ago to purchase the vaccine because they knew it was difficult to obtain at local pharmacies, and once the word got out, the vaccines have been selling at a surprising rate.
“It’s just fantastic,” Hansen said. “The people, I think they see those commercials on TV and that really scares them as well, that shingles looks like something they absolutely do not want to have. So that’s also been a reason that people have come in, they’ve said.”
In fact, Hansen said the vaccine has been selling out so quickly that the county has a waiting list in place for those interested in obtaining the vaccine. She said that the waiting period is usually no more than a couple of weeks, giving the county time to order at least 10 doses per month.
“Once people get the word that we have those, then we get a list, and once we get the vaccine in, we contact them and then we go to the next 10 people on the list,” Hansen explained.
Hansen said she hopes the $6000 appropriation will help the health department make it to the summertime, as they received $8000 last year in their appropriation to begin the year. As the shots are purchased at a cost of $175, the county makes only $15 per shot – but that money isn’t profit, as Hansen explained.
“So we’re actually doing this as a community service; we are making very, very little money – enough to pay for our syringes and our needles and our Band-Aids, and that’s about it,” Hansen explained.
The shot is often covered by insurance, and Hansen said people don’t have to worry about getting the disease unless they’ve had chickenpox in the past, as the conditions are caused by the same virus.
The council approved her request for $6000, allowing the health department to continue to provide the shingles and hepatitis B vaccines to concerned county residents.