The P.E.I. government says it's not ready to pay for shingles vaccines for Islanders.

Shingles occurs when a virus that causes chicken pox resurfaces with age, and can cause months of tenderness or pain.

The opposition pressed Health Minister Robert Henderson in the Legislature Tuesday, asking why the vaccine isn't covered.

"I've had the opportunity to have the discussions with the chief public health officer," answered Henderson. "It's about a $200-a-dose cost."

MLA Rob Henderson in the legislature

Health Minister Robert Henderson says so far, the shingles vaccine hasn't taken priority over providing other vaccines such as the one for the flu. (Province of P.E.I.)

"The efficacy has not been totally proven yet, Mr. Speaker, so once again we are trying to work through our policies to try to determine whether this would be our priority as far as providing vaccines, but obviously we have others, around flu vaccines and these vaccines can be very expensive and we want to make sure we're investing properly."

Henderson said if the province provided all Islanders between 65 and 69 a shingles vaccine, the cost would be $1.2 million, plus $500,000 every year after that.

Opposition MLA James Aylward agreed that the vaccine is expensive.

He pointed out that's why many Island seniors on limited incomes would need help paying for the shot.