Protect yourself from Shingles with the Zostavax vaccination!
What is shingles?
Shingles is a painful skin rash . It is caused by the varicella zoster virus. Shingles usually appears in a band, a strip, or a small area on one side of the face or body. It is also called herpes zoster.
Shingles is most common in older adults and people who have weak immune systems because of stress, injury, certain medicines, or other reasons. Most people who get shingles will get better and will not get it again.
What causes shingles?
Shingles occurs when the virus that causes chickenpox starts up again in your body. After you get better from chickenpox, the virus “sleeps” (is dormant) in your nerve roots. In some people, it stays dormant forever. In others, the virus “wakes up” when disease, stress, or aging weakens the immune system. Some medicines may trigger the virus to wake up and cause a shingles rash. It is not clear why this happens. But after the virus becomes active again, it can only cause shingles, not chickenpox. You can’t catch shingles from someone else who has shingles. But there is a small chance that a person with a shingles rash can spread the virus to another person who hasn’t had chickenpox and who hasn’t gotten the chickenpox vaccine.
ZOSTAVAX (“ZOS-tah-vax”) is not a treatment for Shingles—it’s a vaccine you can get now to help reduce your risk of getting Shingles in the future. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that appropriate adults 60 or older get vaccinated to help prevent Shingles.The vaccine for shingles (Zostavax®) is recommended for use in people 60 years old and older to prevent shingles. The older a person is, the more severe the effects of shingles typically are, so all adults 60 years old or older should get the shingles vaccine.The shingles vaccine is specifically designed to protect people against shingles and will not protect people against other forms of herpes, such as genital herpes. The shingles vaccine is not recommended to treat active shingles or post-herpetic neuralgia (pain after the rash is gone) once it develops. Find a Kohll’s Location to get vaccinated!
In a clinical trial involving thousands of adults 60 years old or older, Zostavax reduced the risk of shingles by about half (51%) and the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia by 67%. While the vaccine was most effective in people 60-69 years old it also provided some protection for older groups. Research suggests that the shingles vaccine is effective for at least six years, but may last much longer. Ongoing studies are being conducted to determine exactly how long the vaccine protects against shingles.
Who Should Get the Vaccine
- CDC recommends Zostavax for use in people 60 years old and older to prevent shingles. This is a one-time vaccination. There is no maximum age for getting the shingles vaccine.Anyone 60 years of age or older should get the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether they recall having had chickenpox or not.
- Studies show that more than 99% of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they don’t remember getting the disease.
- At this time, CDC does not have a recommendation for routine use of shingles vaccine in persons 50 through 59 years old. However, the vaccine is approved by FDA for people 50 and older. It is available by prescription from a health care provider. Talk with your health care provider if you have questions about shingles vaccine.
- Even if you have had shingles, you can still receive the shingles vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific time that you must wait after having shingles before receiving the shingles vaccine. The decision on when to get vaccinated should be made with your health care provider. Generally, a person should make sure that the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated.
Who Should NOT Get the Vaccine
Some people should NOT get shingles vaccine.
- A person who has ever had a life-threatening or severe allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of shingles vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
- A person who has a weakened immune system because of HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system, treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids, cancer treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy, a history of cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma.
- Women who are or might be pregnant
Possible Reactions to Vaccination
No serious problems have been identified with shingles vaccine.
- The vaccine has been tested in about 20,000 people aged 60 years old and older. The most common side effects in people who got the vaccine were redness, soreness, swelling or itching at the shot site, and headache. CDC, working with the FDA, will continue to monitor the safety of the vaccine after it is in general use.
- It is safe to be around infants and young children, pregnant women, or people with weakened immune systems after you get the shingles vaccine. There is no documentation of a person getting chickenpox from someone who has received the shingles vaccine (which contains varicella zoster virus).
- Some people who get the shingles vaccine will develop a chickenpox-like rash near the place where they were vaccinated. As a precaution, this rash should be covered until it disappears.
- The shingles vaccine does not contain thimerosal (a preservative containing mercury).
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