How To Avoid Adult Chickenpox
Getting vaccinated against chickenpox is the best way to avoid chickenpox infection so you wont have shingles later in life. While a vaccine doesnt provide complete immunity to chickenpox, it can limit the severity of symptoms should you get infected.
Vaccinating children early lowers the risk of a chickenpox infection significantly. The two-dose vaccine is typically administered at about 15 months of age and then again at around 4 to 6 years of age.
If youre older than 13 and have never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine, you can still get vaccinated. The process involves two doses, at least 28 days apart.
It can be tough to avoid getting a chickenpox infection from someone with chickenpox, because people with chickenpox are contagious from one to two days before the rash appears until the lesions scab over. The virus is spread through direct contact with fluid from the blisters, breathing in aerosols of the blister fluid, and possibly also by respiratory secretions.
If youve never had chickenpox, you should also avoid contact with anyone who has shingles. In shingles, the virus can be transmitted through direct contact with fluid from the blisters. It only can do this while the rash is present, and the person remains contagious until the blistering rash crusts over.
What Is The Shingles Vaccine
The shingles vaccine can protect you against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , which is the most common complication of shingles. Shingles is a painful rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. The rash usually develops on one side of your body or face. It starts with red bumps and then the bumps turn into fluid-filled blisters.
Are Chickenpox And Shingles Serious Illnesses
The symptoms may be more severe in newborns, persons with weakened immune systems, and adults. Serious problems can occur and may include pneumonia , brain infection , and kidney problems. Many people are not aware that before a vaccine was available, approximately 10,600 persons were hospitalized, and 100 to 150 died, as a result of chickenpox in the U.S. every year.
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How Much Does The Shingles Vaccine Cost
Shingles vaccines are not publicly funded in B.C. One dose of Zostavax costs about $200 each dose of Shingrix is about $150. Both vaccines are available at most travel clinics and pharmacies. Check with your health insurance provider to see if your plan covers the cost of these vaccines.Get immunized against shingles by making an appointment with your doctor, pharmacist or travel clinic.
What To Know About Shingles And The Chickenpox Vaccine
The chickenpox vaccine is not causing a surge or epidemic of shingles. In fact, in addition to reducing your children’s risk of developing chickenpox, it can likely reduce their risk of developing shingles later in life.
Weinmann S. Incidence and clinical characteristics of herpes zoster among children in the varicella vaccine era, 20052009. Journal of Infection Diseases. 2013 208:1859-68.
- Hales, Craig M. Examination of Links Between Herpes Zoster Incidence and Childhood Varicella Vaccination. Ann Intern Med. 2013 159:739-745.
- Leung J. Herpes zoster incidence among insured persons in the United States, 1993-2006: evaluation of the impact of varicella vaccination. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2011 52:332-340.
- Russell ML. Shingles in Alberta: before and after publicly funded varicella vaccination. Vaccine. Volume 32, Issue 47, 29 October 2014, Pages 63196324.
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What Illnesses Does Varicella
Chickenpox first occurs as a blister-like skin rash and fever. It takes from 10-21 days after exposure for someone to develop chickenpox. The sores commonly occur in batches with different stages present at the same time. The blisters usually scab over in 5 days. A person with chickenpox is contagious 1-2 days before the rash appears and until all blisters have formed scabs. Children with weakened immune systems may have blisters occurring for a prolonged time period. Adults can develop severe pneumonia and other serious complications.
Shingles occurs when the virus, which has been inactive for some time, becomes active again. Severe pain and numbness along nerve pathways, commonly on the trunk or on the face, are present. Clusters of blisters appear 1 to 5 days later. The blisters are usually on one side of the body and closer together than in chickenpox. Shingles does not spread as shingles from one person to another. If people who have never had chickenpox come in contact with the fluid from shingles blisters, they can develop chickenpox.
Who Should Not Get Zostavax
Some people should not get shingles vaccine :
The Shingles Prevention Study involved individuals age 60 years and older and found that Zostavax significantly reduced disease in this age group. The vaccine is currently recommended for persons 60 years of age and older.
- 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, or
- cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma.
Someone with a minor acute illness, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. But anyone with a moderate or severe acute illness should usually wait until they recover before getting the vaccine. This includes anyone with a temperature of 101.3°F or higher.
This information was taken from the Shingles Vaccine Information Statement dated 10/06/2009.
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Is There A Way I Can Keep From Being Infected With Chickenpox
Yes, make sure all your vaccines are up to date, especially if you are planning a pregnancy. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and those you love. If you are not immune, you should be vaccinated. You will receive two doses of varicella vaccine one month apart. You should avoid becoming pregnant for at least one month after the last vaccination. Varicella vaccine should not be given to pregnant women. If you are pregnant, have your healthcare provider give you the varicella vaccine after your baby is delivered.
Can You Get Shingles If Youve Never Had Chickenpox
You can only get shingles if youve previously had chickenpox. After a chickenpox infection, the virus stays in your nervous system. If the virus becomes reactive again, it leads to shingles. The first time youre infected with the virus it leads to chickenpox.
Vaccines are now widely available to protect against chickenpox and shingles. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to prevent both before they develop.
Specific Complications Of Shingles
Postherpetic neuralgia is pain that persists for longer than a month after the onset of herpes zoster. It is the most common severe complication of shingles. Risk factors for PHN include:
- Age. PHN usually affects people with herpes zoster who are over 60 years old. The older a person is the longer PHN is likely to last. It rarely occurs in people under age 40.
- Gender. Some studies suggest that women may be at slightly higher risk for PHN than men.
- Severe or complicated shingles. People who had prodromal symptoms or a severe attack during the initial shingles episode are also at high risk for PHN. People whose eyes have been affected also have increased risk for PHN.
If the blistered area is not kept clean and free from irritation, it may become infected with group A Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria. If the infection is severe, scarring can occur.
In very rare cases, herpes zoster is associated with Stevens-Johnson syndrome, an extensive and serious condition in which widespread blisters cover mucous membranes and large areas of the body.
If shingles occurs in the face, the eyes are at risk, particularly if the path of the infection follows the side of the nose. If the eyes become involved , a severe infection can occur that is difficult to treat and can threaten vision. People with HIV/AIDS may be at particular risk for a chronic infection in the cornea of the eye.
Can You Get Shingles After Youve Been Vaccinated
While the shingles vaccine is highly effective, some people can still get shingles. However, people who do get shingles after getting the shingles vaccine usually have milder symptoms and a shorter illness. Youll also be less likely to have complications from shingles, including postherpetic neuralgia.
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Getting Vaccinated Against Chickenpox And Shingles
Vaccination is available for the prevention of both chickenpox and shingles.
If you do not have health insurance or cannot afford vaccination, check for vaccine assistance programs directly with the shingles vaccine manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline. For chickenpox, contact the Vaccines for Children program to see if you are eligible for help.
Home Remedies For Chickenpox Relief
Chickenpox is uncomfortable and unpleasant, but most cases in children are relatively mild and resolve within 7 to 10 days. If you or your child has been exposed to chickenpox, contact your health care provider. In otherwise healthy people who have a low risk for complications, home remedies can help provide relief from itching and fever.
- Oatmeal baths can help relieve itching.
- Calamine lotion can help dry out blisters and soothe skin.
- Acetaminophen can help reduce fever.
- Antihistamines may relieve severe itching and aid sleep.
Most important, do not scratch! Scratching the blisters can cause scarring and lead to a secondary infection.
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So Should I Get The Chickenpox Vaccine Or The Shingles Vaccine
For most healthy people, if youre between 30 and 50 years old, theres no need for either vaccine, Orrange said. There are some exceptions, including health care workers, pregnant women, teachers and those who are HIV-positive. If youre an adult who hasnt received the vaccine or you think youve never been exposed to chickenpox, you can ask your primary care doctor to run a blood test called varicella titers. It shows your level of chickenpox immunity.
But if youre 50 or older, you can and should get the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix, whether or not you remember getting chickenpox in childhood. Its given as a shot in two doses, two to six months apart.
Theres also an older shingles vaccine called Zostavax. Its given to those 50 and over with certain medical conditions, and to people 60 and over. Zostavax is 19 times stronger than the chickenpox vaccine. Its unknown, by the way, whether the shingles vaccines protect against the varicella virus that would lead to chickenpox in adults who were never exposed. The makers of Shingrix or Zostavax would have to run a study on that question, Orrange said, but theres little incentive to do so since a chickenpox vaccine already exists.
Chickenpox Versus Shingleswhats The Difference
Did you know? The same virus that causes chickenpox also causes shingles. Although shingles and chickenpox are caused by the same virus, they are not the same illness. Chickenpox is usually a milder illness that affects children. Shingles results from a reactivation of the virus long after the chickenpox illness has disappeared.
The chickenpox virus stays in the body even after recovery. Later in life, the virus can reactivate and cause shingles. If you have shingles, you can spread the varicella virus to people who have never had chickenpox or never received the chickenpox vaccine. These people will develop chickenpox, not shingles. It takes from 10 to 21 days after exposure to chickenpox or shingles for someone to develop chickenpox.
What are the symptoms?
- Initial symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, and feeling tired.
- An itchy blister-like rash, usually starting on the face, chest or back, follows 1-2 days later.
- The rash then spreads to the rest of the body, and new blisters continue to appear for about 3-4 days.
- Generally, within 1 week, the blisters dry out and scabs form and fall off.
How contagious is it?
Shingles Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another. Someone with an infectious shingles rash can spread chickenpox if the other person has never had chickenpox. However, someone with shingles will not cause another person to develop shingles.
Is there a vaccine?
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Who Should Not Get Chickenpox Vaccine
You do not need to get the chickenpox vaccine if you have evidence of immunity against the disease.
Some people should not get chickenpox vaccine or they should wait.
- People should not get chickenpox vaccine if they have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of chickenpox vaccine or any ingredient of the vaccine, including gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin.
- People who are moderately or severely ill at the time the shot is scheduled should wait until they recover before getting chickenpox vaccine.
- Pregnant women should not get chickenpox vaccine. They should wait to get chickenpox vaccine until after they have given birth. Women should not get pregnant for 1 month after getting chickenpox vaccine.
- People should check with their doctor about whether they should get chickenpox vaccine if they
- Have HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system
- Are being treated with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids, for 2 weeks or longer
- Have any kind of cancer
- Are getting cancer treatment with radiation or drugs
- Recently had a transfusion or were given other blood products
Immune Conditions in Family Members
People should check with their doctor about whether they should get chickenpox vaccine if they have immune conditions in first degree relatives that can be inherited .
Most children who have family members with immune system problems can safely get varicella vaccine as long as they themselves have a healthy immune system.
What To Know About The Shingles Vaccine
Who needs it? The CDC recommends that everyone 50 and older get Shingrix, even if they had the earlier recommended vaccine Zostavax, or if theyve already had a bout of shingles. Older adults should also get this vaccine, whether or not they remember having had chickenpox as a child. Why? More than 99 percent of Americans over the age of 40 have been exposed to the varicella-zoster virus, even if they dont recall getting chickenpox.
How often? The CDC recommends that older adults, as described above, get this vaccine, which is given in two doses spaced two to six months apart. But it remains to be seen if the agency will recommend that older adults get it again, say, after its effectiveness starts to wane four years after their first inoculation.
Why you need it: 1 in 3 people will get painful, occasionally debilitating shingles, usually after age 50, and the risk increases with age. By age 85, half of adults will have experienced at least one outbreak.
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What If Youre Over 50 And Have Never Had Chickenpox
If youre over 50 and confident that youve never had exposure to chickenpox, a primary doctor can run a blood test to determine your level of chickenpox immunity.
If it turns out that youve never been exposed to chickenpox, consider getting vaccinated against the virus to protect against any future exposure.
Most adults between 30 and 50 years old dont need to worry about racing to get either the chickenpox or shingles vaccine.
Consider getting the shingles vaccine before turning 50 if you:
- work in an industry that might have higher exposure to chickenpox, like healthcare or teaching
Do not get a chickenpox vaccine if you:
- previously had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of chickenpox vaccine or any ingredient of the vaccine
- are moderately or severely ill
Talk with a doctor before getting a chickenpox vaccine if you:
- have HIV or another condition that affects your immune system
- are taking a medication that affects your immune system for 2 weeks or longer
- have cancer of any kind or are taking medications for cancer
- have recently had a blood transfusion
Before shingles appear, youll normally develop:
- pain in the body
The shingles rash typically starts as a single strip rash around the side of the body. It may eventually break out to another nearby area if you spread it by scratching.
How Contagious Are Chickenpox Vs Shingles
Chickenpox is highly contagious and can easily be transmitted to people who havent had chickenpox or havent been vaccinated. Its still possible to get chickenpox if youve been vaccinated, but its less likely.
Shingles cant be passed between people, and it only occurs in people whove previously had chickenpox. But if a person who hasnt been exposed to the virus touches the fluid in your rash, they can develop chickenpox. Covering your rash can help prevent passing it to others.
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What Everyone Should Know About The Shingles Vaccine
CDC recommends that adults 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease. Adults 19 years and older who have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses of Shingrix, as they have a higher risk of getting shingles and related complications.
Your doctor or pharmacist can give you Shingrix as a shot in your upper arm.
Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and PHN. In adults 50 years and older who have healthy immune systems, Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and PHN. Immunity stays strong for at least the first 7 years after vaccination. In adults with weakened immune systems, studies show that Shingrix is 68%-91% effective in preventing shingles, depending on the condition that affects the immune system.