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_ Hepatitis A and B combination, $90.

_ Human papilloma virus, $129-$130. Spread by sexual contact, it can cause vaginal, anal and mouth cancers and genital warts. Three shots needed over six months. Best before initial sexual activity. Gardasil is approved for females and males aged 9-26; Cervarix for females age 10-25.

_ Measles/mumps/rubella (German measles), $50. One or two shots from 19 through 49, then a booster, for anyone born after 1956, unless they have lab tests showing immunity from prior infection or vaccination. Second dose is needed after four weeks if exposed to a measles or mumps outbreak. Rubella protection is particularly needed before pregnancy.

_ Meningococcal disease, $106. Causes bacterial meningitis and bloodstream infections, which are uncommon but can Kill or disable quickly. Two-dose series recommended mainly for new college students, military recruits, people without a healthy spleen.

_ Pneumococcal disease, $44-$49. Causes painful ear and sinus infections, pneumonia, bacterial meningitis and blood stream infections. One dose from age 65 up if immunity isn’t certain, or one or two doses from age 19 through 64, then a booster dose. Mainly for smokers, nursing home residents, people with lung or heart disease, diabetes, HIV and other immune conditions, liver diseases, alcoholism, or damaged or removed spleen.

_ Shingles (herpes zoster), $154-$162. One dose from age 60 up to prevent shingles, a painful, blistering skin rash caused by the chicken pox virus.

It’s difficult to quantify how much money one might save by getting vaccines, particularly since they aren’t effective in every patient, but some of these infections can bring very high medical expenses and leave people too sick to work.

For example, treatment for a yearlong outbreak of shingles pain easily exceeds $5,000, and serious complications requiring hospitalization can add another $20,000. Removal of precancerous lesions that might be prevented by the HPV shot can run well over $700, and treatment would cost far more if cancer developed.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently called new vaccines one of the top public health achievements of the last decade. It cited record lows in the number of reported cases of hepatitis A, hepatitis B and chicken pox, along with the introduction of multiple-strain pneumococcal vaccines.


CDC schedule with detailed recommendations for who should get vaccines:

CDC quiz to determine which vaccines you need: