The Allegheny County Health Department is offering the shingles vaccine free of charge to people 50 and older with no insurance or insurance that doesn’t cover the vaccine.
The shingles vaccine is available while supplies last at the health department’s vaccination clinic at 3441 Forbes Ave. in Oakland. No appointment is necessary, but please call 412-578-8062 ahead of time to be sure vaccine is still available.
The clinic is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 1 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. Free parking is provided after 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in the lot behind 3333 Forbes Ave.
The offer of free vaccine is made possible by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which has supplied about 300 doses of the shingles vaccine at no cost to the county health department.
Shingles is a painful skin rash, often with blisters, that is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles because the virus remains in the nerve cells of the body after chickenpox goes away and can reappear many years later causing shingles.
The risk of getting shingles begins to rise around age 50. Anyone that age or older should get the vaccine, regardless of whether they recall having had chickenpox or not, because studies show 99 percent of those 40 and older have had chickenpox.
People who have already had shingles can still receive the shingles vaccine to prevent future occurrences of the disease. The vaccine reduces the risk of shingles by more than 50 percent and the risk of pain after the rash by 67 percent.