As we grow older, we become more susceptible to ailments and injuries. One of the most severe and painful conditions affecting older adults is shingles. Shingles is caused by the chicken pox virus, varicella zoste. It is a painful rash in which blisters develop anywhere on your body (it’s commonly found along the torso), and can cause intense burning and tingling pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as one in three people in the United States are likely to get shingles this year.
In light of this debilitating disease, a vaccination was created; however, not every insurance company covers it. The shingles vaccination can cost close to $200. In an effort to educate and help protect older adults from shingles, Spring Creek Senior Partners (SCSP) joined with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York with the support from the NYC Department of the Aging, to provide free shingles vaccines to seniors living in Spring Creek Towers.
On March 23rd, SCSP held their first-ever Shingles Vaccine Program in the Brooklyn Sports Club’s multipurpose room. “SCSP is all about advocating for seniors to lead safe and healthy lives. That is why, we decided to host this shingles seminar, where they can learn more about the disease and receive free vaccinations,” said Theodora Ziongas, Director of SCSP.
Close to 40 residents gathered together to understand what causes shingles, its effects and if they are able to receive the vaccination. “Although it is advised by the Centers for Disease Control that the Shingles Vaccine should be a priority for everyone over the age of 60, the Department for Aging has recognized that only 20% of seniors have actually been vaccinated,” said NYC Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado in a press release. “The rate is even lower among African-American and Hispanic seniors recorded at 9% and only 16% for Asians. Our mission is to promote health programs that will give our community the proper tools needed to live their life to the fullest potential; we are excited to co-host this program at various sites so that a larger number of seniors can learn about shingles and become vaccinated at no cost.”
This initiative was made possible with a $75,000 grant from the New York Foundation for Eldercare Fund coupled with support from Nate’s Pharmacy. In addition, attendees received a free vaccination and educational sessions provided by Partners in Care, a licensed home care agency affiliated with the not-for-profit VNSNY. In attendance of the ground-breaking community event were: Ruth Cordero from the New York City Department for the Aging, and Rhonda K. Soberman and other nurses from the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.
At the end of the event, those who wanted to receive the vaccination formed a line as they awaited their turn to see a nurse. Some were frightened of needles, like Amita Harrison, who clenched her eyes shut when she felt the pinch of the injection in her right arm. On the other hand, Harrison’s friend, Orefelina Blanchard, was all smiles and ready for her vaccination. “I’m glad I was able to have this shot given to me in my community and that it was free,” said Blanchard.
Photos by Amanda Moses