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A vaccination update

October 21, 2013
by Kathleen Mears
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In a September blog I wrote about my plans to get the shingles vaccination at a local chain drugstore. They said all I needed was a doctor's prescription. So I asked my nurse to call my doctor for it.

A few days later when I asked if the prescription had come in, my nurse said it had and the vaccine was ordered through the facility's pharmacy. I was surprised by that because a year ago when I asked about the vaccination the nurses gave me strange looks and told me to ask my doctor about it.

I told my nurse that if Medicare didn’t cover the inoculation, I would pay for it out of pocket. In my care conference, the facility said it would cover the cost if the vaccine wasn’t covered. But I reiterated that I would gladly pay for the shot myself.

I was surprised that I would get the shot in the facility. An RN friend said most physicians and clinics were not giving the shingles vaccination because it has to be kept frozen until right before it is used. Apparently many providers felt that was too difficult.

Since my lymph nodes under both arms were removed because of breast cancer, I was concerned about getting the shot in either arm. I use my left arm and I did not want it to have residual soreness. So I had the injection in my right arm.

Initially, the shot did not hurt. But a day later my right arm ached and the shot site was red. I also experienced generalized aching on my right side for about two weeks. By the time the bruise from the injection was fading, the aching was gone.

I would recommend that those who have had the lymph nodes under their arms removed because of breast cancer not get the shingles vaccination in their arms. Since the vaccine is injected under the skin, I think it would be better if it is given in the torso or thigh.

I feel safer since I got the vaccination. The vaccination does not completely prevent shingles. But if they do occur, I have read that the shingles outbreak will be milder.



Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...