Why Is It Important To Receive A Vaccination Against Shingles
About 33% of adults in the U.S. will develop shingles at some point in their lives. Shingles can cause painful blisters, a rash, chills, and fever, among other symptoms. Many people who have shingles later develop PHN, which can cause long-lasting pain that is difficult to treat.
Getting the Shingrix vaccine can help individuals avoid shingles and PHN and help prevent shingles from spreading to vulnerable people.
How Well Does Zostavax Work
Zostavax®, the shingles vaccine, reduced the risk of shingles by 51% and the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia by 67% based on a large study of more than 38,000 adults aged 60 years or older. Protection from shingles vaccine lasts about 5 years.
While the vaccine was most effective in people 60 through 69 years old, it also provides some protection for people 70 years old and older.
Adults vaccinated before age 60 years might not be protected later in life when the risk for shingles and its complications are greatest.
What Matters Most To You
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to get a shingles vaccine
Reasons not to get a vaccine
I want to lower my chances of getting shingles.
I would rather take my chances without getting a vaccine.
I’m afraid of the pain that shingles can cause.
I’m not afraid of shingles pain.
Getting shots doesn’t bother me.
I don’t like getting shots.
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What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Shingles Immunisation
All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time theyre not.
For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.
Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of shingles vaccines, or if you have possible side effects that worry you.
Common side effects of shingles vaccines include:
- pain, redness, swelling or itching where the needle went in
Serious reactions to immunisation are rare. With Zostavax® vaccination, very rarely a generalised chickenpox-like rash may occur around 24 weeks after vaccination. This may be associated with fever and feeling unwell. This rash may be a sign of a serious reaction to the virus in the vaccine. Seek medical attention and inform of recent Zostavax vaccination if you experience this reaction.
The Consumer Medicine Information links in How do you get immunised against shingles? list the side effects of each vaccine.
What Is Shingles And How Do You Catch It
Shingles is a painful skin rash that forms on one side of the body. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus. Shingles can affect people who have had chickenpox, even if they had the illness long ago.
Once youve had chickenpox, the virus becomes inactive in the body and can reactivate years later. The virus can remain inactive in your nerve roots for many years, and then wake up and travel down the path of a sensory nerve to the skincausing shingles. You may develop shingles more than once in your lifetime.
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Do I Need A Prescription For A Shingles Vaccine
Once you have a Medicare insurance plan that covers the shingles vaccine, youll need to find out whether a prescription is necessary. This is dependent on where you get vaccinated. You wont need a prescription if you get vaccinated at your doctors office.
Some pharmacies that provide vaccines do so under the standing order of a supervising physician. This is convenient for patients because it saves them a trip to the doctors office to acquire a prescription before receiving the vaccine. You may need to call your pharmacy to see how they handle shingles vaccine orders.
If your pharmacy requires a prescription, youll need to contact your medical provider first. They may want to see you in the office beforehand, but not always. Sometimes, the doctor may give you the shingles vaccine at your appointment.
Once you have the prescription in your possession, the remaining steps are pretty straightforward. Take the prescription to a pharmacy in your plans network to be filled. A pharmacist will administer the vaccine in their clinic area.
Its possible to save money on shingles vaccines with a SingleCare pharmacy savings card. SingleCare coupons can help uninsured or underinsured patients get shingles vaccines at a discounted price.
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Make A Plan To Get 2 Doses
- You can get Shingrix at your doctors office or pharmacy. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about getting Shingrix.
- Plan to get your second dose of Shingrix 2 to 6 months after your first dose.
Five years later, I still take prescription medication for pain. My shingles rash quickly developed into open, oozing sores that in only a few days required me to be hospitalized. I could not eat, sleep, or perform even the most minor tasks. It was totally debilitating. The pain still limits my activity levels to this day.
A 63-year-old harpist who was unable to continue playing due to shingles
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Can You Get Chickenpox If You’ve Been Vaccinated
Yes. About 15% 20% of people who have received one dose of varicella vaccine do still get chickenpox if they are exposed, but their disease is usually mild. Vaccinated persons who get chickenpox generally have fewer than 50 spots or bumps, which may resemble bug bites more than typical, fluid-filled chickenpox blisters. In 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend routine two-dose varicella vaccination for children. In one study, children who received two doses of varicella vaccine were three times less likely to get chickenpox than individuals who have had only one dose.
Should I Get The Shingles Vaccine And If So When
A vaccine for shingles was approved by the FDA in 2006.The vaccine is currently approved for adults over the age of 50 but the American College of Physicians recommends waiting to vaccinate until the age of 60 to ensure that the vaccine is most effective when the complications from shingles can be more severe. As you age, your odds of developing a more serious case of shingles, as well as postherpetic neuralgia, increase.
After the age of 60, the shingles vaccine is 51 percent effective in preventing shingles and 67 percent effective in preventing postherpetic neuralgia. The protective effects of the vaccine diminish after five years, so the later you receive the vaccine the better chance you will have of protecting yourself. Those who still develop shingles after receiving the vaccine should experience less severe symptoms.
Approximately 4 percent of patients who develop shingles will experience a recurrence of the disease. If you have already experienced shingles, getting vaccinated may help you prevent a recurrence and should reduce the duration and severity of new symptoms should the disease recur.
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Who Shouldn’t Get It
A person should not get Shingrix if:
- They have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or the first dose of the vaccine.
- They test negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus.
- They currently have shingles.
- They are pregnant.
If you are experiencing a moderate to severe illness, with a fever or not, you should consider waiting until you are better before getting the vaccine.
When Should I See A Doctor Because Of The Side Effects I Experience From Shingrix
Shingrix causes a strong response in your immune system, so it may produce short-term side effects. These side effects can be uncomfortable, but they are expected and usually go away on their own in 2 or 3 days. You may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Contact your healthcare provider if the symptoms are not improving or if they are getting worse.
In clinical trials, Shingrix was not associated with serious adverse events. In fact, serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. For example, for every 1 million doses of a vaccine given, only one or two people might have a severe allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction happen within minutes or hours after vaccination and include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness. If you experience these or any other life-threatening symptoms, see a doctor right away.
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What Else Do You Need To Make Your Decision
Check the facts
- That’s right. The vaccine greatly lowers your chances of getting shingles.
- Sorry, that’s wrong. The shingles vaccine greatly lowers your chances of getting shingles.
- It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” The shingles vaccine greatly lowers your chances of getting shingles.
- You’re right. But even if you do get shingles, your symptoms are likely to be much milder.
- Sorry, that’s wrong. You could still get shingles, but your chances are a lot lower with the vaccine.
- It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” You could still get shingles, but your chances are a lot lower with the vaccine.
- You’re right. The CDC recommends two doses of the shingles vaccine.
- Sorry, that’s wrong. The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine.
- It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine.
1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?
Who Should Not Get The Shingles Vaccine
Some people shouldnt get the shingles vaccine. These people include those:
- Who currently have shingles.
- Who have had a severe allergic reaction to the shingles vaccine in the past.
- Who have tested negative for immunity to the varicella-zoster virus, meaning youve never had chickenpox. If youve never had chickenpox, you should get the chickenpox vaccine.
- Who are ill. You should wait until your illness has passed before receiving the shingles vaccine.
- Who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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Im Pregnant And Have Had A Blood Test For Chickenpox What Do The Results Of This Test Show
The blood test can show that you:
- Are immune and have no sign of recent infection. You have nothing further to be concerned about.
- Are not immune and have not yet been infected. You should avoid anyone with chickenpox during your pregnancy.
- Have or recently had an infection. You should discuss what the risks are for your stage of pregnancy with your healthcare provider.
How Long Does Shingrix Last
The Shingrix vaccine can remain effective for at least four years in most people and even longer in others. You must get the entire series to be protected against shingles, which includes two separate shots. Even if you have had the infection, getting vaccinated can still offer benefits because it may help reduce the risk of developing PHN.
Shingrix may not protect everyone, but it provides broader protection for older adults whose immune systems are declining with age or disease.
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Shingles Vaccine For Older Adults
Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. If you had chickenpox, the virus is still in your body. As you get older, the virus could become active again and cause shingles.
Shingles affects the nerves. Common symptoms include burning, shooting pain, tingling, and/or itching, as well as a rash with fluid-filled blisters. Even when the rash disappears, the pain can remain. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN.
The shingles vaccine is safe, and it may keep you from getting shingles and PHN. Healthy adults age 50 and older should get vaccinated with the shingles vaccine, Shingrix, which is given in two doses.
You should get a shingles vaccine even if youve already had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, or if you don’t remember whether you had chickenpox. You should also get the shingles vaccine if you’ve already had shingles or received Zostavax. However, you should not get a vaccine if you currently have shingles, are sick or have a fever, have a weakened immune system, or have had an allergic reaction to Shingrix. Check with a health care provider if you are not sure what to do.
You can get the shingles vaccine at a doctors office and at some pharmacies. Medicare Part D and private health insurance plans may pay some or all of the cost. Check with Medicare or your health plan to find out if it is covered.
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
Its normal to have questions before you get a vaccine. Some common questions you may want to discuss with your healthcare provider include:
- When should I get the shingles vaccine?
- What side effects should I expect?
- How does the shingles vaccine work?
- When should I schedule each dose of the shingles vaccine?
- How effective is the shingles vaccine?
- Is there any reason I shouldnt get the shingles vaccine?
- What could happen if I dont get the shingles vaccine?
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Who Is Eligible For The Vaccine
People aged 70 years of age are eligible for the vaccine.
The vaccine is also available for those previously eligible but who missed immunisation. For example, anyone in their 70s who has not yet had the vaccine.
You become eligible for the shingles vaccine as you turn 70 and remain eligible up to the age of 79.
People under 70 years of age are at lower risk of shingles but will become eligible for the vaccine when they turn 70. People aged 80 years and over are not eligible for the shingles vaccination because the vaccine becomes less effective as people get older. If you are worried about shingles speak to your GP.
If Im Taking Antiviral Medication Such As For Cold Sores Can I Get The Shingles Vaccine
If you are being treated with any antiviral medication, such as acyclovir, valaciclovir or valganciclovir, it is best that the treatment is stopped for at least 24 hours before getting the shingles vaccine and for 14 days after vaccination. This allows the vaccine virus to replicate and induce an immune response.
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For Patients Who Do Not Report A Prior Episode Of Varicella
When vaccinating immunocompetent adults aged 50 years and older, there is no need to screen for a history of varicella or to conduct laboratory testing for serologic evidence of prior varicella. More than 99% of adults aged 50 years and older worldwide have been exposed to varicella-zoster virus, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices considers people born in the United States prior to 1980 immune to varicella. Therefore, even if a person does not recall having chickenpox, serologic testing for varicella immunity is not recommended. It is often a barrier to herpes zoster vaccination, and false negatives are common. However, if serologic evidence of varicella susceptibility becomes available to the healthcare provider, providers should follow ACIP guidelines for varicella vaccination. Shingrix has not been evaluated in persons who are seronegative to varicella, and it is not indicated for the prevention of varicella.
For adults 19 years of age and older who are or will be immunocompromised, see .
How Does The Shingles Vaccine Work
People with a weakened immune system cannot have live vaccines. They will be offered a non-live vaccine called Shingrix. It activates the immune system but also contains an ingredient called an adjuvant, which helps to boost the response to the vaccine.
Very occasionally, people develop chickenpox following shingles vaccination . Talk to a GP if this happens to you.
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Know The Benefits And The Side Effects
Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and long-term nerve pain. You may experience some short-term side effects because Shingrix causes a strong response in your immune system.
After getting Shingrix:
- Most people had a sore arm.
- Many people had redness and swelling where they got the shot .
- Many felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea.
About 1 out of 6 people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities like yardwork or swimming. Side effects usually go away after 2 to 3 days. Remember that the pain from shingles can last a lifetime, and these side effects should only last a few days.
The Link Between Cancer And Shingles
Also called herpes zoster, shingles is a condition characterized by a painful rash on one side of the face or body. It’s caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus in the body .
People diagnosed with lung cancer and other solid tumor cancers are at a higher risk for developing shingles.
More specifically, the highest risk for shingles in people with solid tumor cancers includes those who:
- Have been recently diagnosed
- Are undergoing chemotherapy
The risk of developing shingles is also higher in people with blood-related cancers.
Both cancer and cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, impact your immune system and reduce your ability to fight off infections.
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Does Medicare Cover Shingles Vaccines In 2022
Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus . It produces a painful rash with fluid-filled blisters and typically shows up on one side of the body. The same virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles. Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past is at risk of getting shingles.
Shingles is a painful rash that occurs along the distribution of a nerve, called a dermatome, says Erum N. Ilyas, MD, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and founder of AmberNoon. The virus lays dormant in the nervous system. Immunity likely plays a role in preventing the virus from reactivating. When immunity is low, the virus replicates and spreads down the nerve causing pain, inflammation, and blistering.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults older than 50 get the shingles vaccine. Shingles can cause long-term nerve pain and nerve damage. Getting two shingles vaccine doses two to six months apart has proven to be very effective at preventing shingles.