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Ask Dr. Gott 7/24
Difficulty finding shingles vaccine
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DEAR DR. GOTT: After reading your column about Zostavax, I had to write.
    I was finally able to convince my mother to get the shingles vaccine, but her doctor would only give her a prescription for it. He wouldn't administer it because of the short window in which it has to be given.
    Mom and I searched for weeks to find a healthcare provider who administered the vaccine. A local internist would administer it, but only if my mother was able to get the vaccine and bring it to him. As you indicated, it must be kept frozen in order for it to be effective, so I made several phone calls, wrote e-mails and even contacted the health reporter from one of our news stations in search of a provider of the vaccine. No one was able to help.
    I finally contacted AARP, which suggested I write to the CDC. They, in turn, recommended that I contact Merck, which developed the vaccine. I went to Merck's Web site and was able to find a location only 30 minutes away, where the vaccine was sold and administered. It turned out that a nationally known supermarket that contains a pharmacy had the vaccine in stock. Across from the supermarket was a clinic where the vaccine could be given by a health-care professional. I was very impressed with the pharmacist, who wouldn't give my mother the vaccine until he was certain that there was someone available in the clinic, right then, who would be able to administer it. The entire process took less than an hour, and my mother's insurance covered most of the cost.
    The Web site to find a location is You need to put in your home zip code, and it will bring up locations that provide vaccines. I understand how difficult it is for some people to get the vaccine, and I hope that this helps make it easier for them.
    DEAR READER: When I first mentioned the shingles vaccine, I had no idea that so many people would have trouble getting it. Most physicians seem to be unwilling to administer it because it has such a small viability window.
    I am printing your letter in the hopes that it will help those interested in getting the vaccine. Thanks for passing along this information.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am 60 years old and run 10 miles a week. I also bike 25 miles a week. I take two caplets of Osteo Bi-Flex Advanced Triple Strength Glucosamine and Chondroitin MSM and Joint Shield daily. It helps me a lot, and my joints seem to benefit from it.
    Is it safe to take the tablets daily, or should I take them only when I feel I need to? Is it safe to take folic acid for hair loss at the same time?
    DEAR READER: To the best of my knowledge, there is no interaction between Osteo Bi-Flex and folic acid; however, I recommend you speak to your pharmacist, who would better know of any possible reactions.
    As to taking Osteo Bi-Flex daily, this isn't harmful. The main active ingredients of glucosamine and chondroitin work best if take daily because they work to restore cartilage. MSM has also shown in small studies to be beneficial in relieving joint pain from osteoarthritis. Ask your doctor for more in-depth information.
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