Shingles vaccine for seniors under consideration

P.E.I. Health Minister Doug Currie says he will consult with the provincial chief public health officer on the idea of covering the cost of the shingles vaccine for low- and moderate-income seniors.

Covering cost of shingles vaccine would cost province about $4 million

Health Minister Doug Currie told the legislature he would discuss funding shingles vaccines for some seniors with the chief public health office. (Province of P.E.I.)

P.E.I. Health Minister Doug Currie says he will consult with the provincial chief public health officer on the idea of covering the cost of the shingles vaccine for low- and moderate-income seniors.

The issue was raised in the legislature by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives last week, after the P.E.I. Senior Citizens' Federation passed a resolution calling on government to take action.

Currie said the idea is worth considering.

"We have to make sure that we're accountable, that we're transparent, that we're making sure that we spend publicly funded money and get the best value that we possibly can in respect to the competing demands in our provincial health care system," he said.

The vaccine costs about $200 and is covered by some private insurance plans but not by the province.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison recommended two years ago that seniors get the vaccine.

The vaccine does not provide full protection, but can reduce the risk of getting shingles by up to 50 per cent, depending on a person's age.

Currie told the legislature he estimates covering the shingles vaccine would cost about $4 million. He said before making a decision he would like to take the idea to the chief public health office and the immunization advisory committee.

John Kenny, past president of the P.E.I. Senior Citizens' Federation, said his group hears from seniors who don't have insurance and would have a hard time paying for the vaccine.