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B.C. United promises free shingles vaccine after seniors advocate report

The vaccine costs about $320 for the two doses
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B.C. United is promising a free shingles vaccine after the province's seniors advocate called for it in his latest report. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Matthew Lotz)

B.C. United leader Kevin Falcon says his party would make the shingle vaccine free to people over the age of 50.

Falcon's announcement came Saturday, just days after B.C.'s seniors advocate Dan Levitt called for the province to make the vaccine free as one of his recommendations in his latest reports. 

Falcon said his party has been calling for years for the vaccine to be made free. 

“In the middle of an affordability crisis, countless seniors face serious financial barriers to accessing the shingles vaccine, which costs approximately $160 per dose. BC United will ensure all seniors receive the health care they deserve, and introduce a program to provide, at no cost, the shingles vaccine, which can prevent a painful and debilitating illness," Falcon said. 

Levitt's report said that nearly one-in-three Canadians develop shingles in their lifetime. Shingles is a disease that causes neuropathic pain and painful rashes on the face or body, and people over the age of 50 are particularly susceptible to it.

The report noted the vaccine – which costs about $320 for both doses – can be a financial barrier for low-income seniors as most don't have extended health benefits to cover the costs.