Know Your Risk Of Getting Shingles And Complications
About 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime.
If youve had chickenpox, you are at risk for shingles. More than 99% of Americans born before 1980 have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember it.
Your risk of getting shingles and having serious complications increases as you get older.
About 1 in 10 people who get shingles develop nerve pain that lasts for months or years after the rash goes away. This is called postherpetic neuralgia and is the most common complication of shingles.
Shingles may lead to other serious complications involving the eye, including blindness. Very rarely, it can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, brain inflammation or death.
How Effective Is The Shingles Vaccine In Preventing Shingles
The shingles vaccine can provide strong protection against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , the most commonly occurring shingles complication.
The shingles vaccine is 97% effective in preventing shingles in people ages 50 to 69 years old. Its 91% effective in people ages 70 years and older.
In addition, the shingles vaccine is 91% effective in preventing PHN in people ages 50 to 69 years old. Its 89% effective in people ages 70 years and older.
Whos Most At Risk Of Shingles
People tend to get shingles more often as they get older, especially over the age of 70. And the older you are, the worse it can be. The shingles rash can be extremely painful, such that sufferers cannot even bear the feeling of their clothes touching the affected skin.
The pain of shingles can also linger long after the rash has disappeared, even for many years. This lingering pain is called post-herpetic neuralgia .
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When To See A Doctor For The Possible Side Effects Of A Shingle Vaccine
Most side effects of the shingles vaccine will resolve on their own within a few days of vaccination or can be treated with over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
In the rare case that you develop a more serious reaction after vaccination, you should call a doctor or go to a health clinic.
Its rare but possible to have a serious allergic reaction to a shingles vaccine. Call emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room if you experience the following symptoms after a vaccination:
Is The Vaccine Safe
The vaccine can be given to people with a previous history of shingles infection. It should not be given to anyone who currently has shingles. As stated above, the vaccine should not be given to people who are clinically immunosuppressed because the vaccine strain could replicate too much and cause a serious infection. For more information see the MHRA’s Drug Safety Update .
In clinical trials of the vaccine, there have been no reports of someone who was vaccinated passing the virus on to anyone else. However, because the shingles vaccine is a live vaccine, it is thought that this may be possible in rare cases.
There is thought to be a very small risk that someone who has been vaccinated could pass on the virus to someone who is not immune to chickenpox. This is only thought to be a risk if the person who has been vaccinated develops a shingles type rash at the injection site or elsewhere on the body.
The shingles vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women as a matter of caution. However, studies have been carried out on pregnant women who have accidentally received chickenpox or shingles vaccines. These have not shown any link between the weakened virus in the vaccine and any specific problems in babies born to these women. See this Public Health England statement for more information.
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Does The Vaccine Work
In December 2017 Public Health England published an evaluation of the first three years of the shingles vaccination programme in England . This showed that the shingles vaccine was 62% effective against shingles and 70 to 88% effective against post-herpetic neuralgia in this period. Public Health England estimates that there were 17000 fewer GP consultations for shingles than expected in this 3-year period.
In the early 2000s researchers carried out a very large study of Zostavax, the shingles vaccine used in the UK, involving over 38,000 adults aged 60 or older. The results showed that:
- In adults aged between 60 and 70, the vaccine reduced the number of cases of shingles by 51.3%
- In adults aged over 70, the vaccine reduced the number of cases of shingles by 38%
- The vaccine reduced the incidence of post-herpetic neuralgia by over 66% in all age groups
- For those who did get shingles, the vaccine reduced the severity of the disease.
Read the abstract of this study , published in 2005 by Oxman et al.
Adults aged 80 or over are not offered the shingles vaccine. This is because the effectiveness of the vaccine declines with age in older age groups.
Conditions Treated By Shingrix And Zostavax
Shingrix and Zostavax are FDA approved to prevent shingles . Both vaccines are indicated to prevent shingles in adults aged 50 years and older. Shingrix and Zostavax are not used to prevent primary varicella infection, also known as chickenpox.
Postherpetic neuralgia is a common type of nerve pain that arises with shingles. Because Shingrix and Zostavax can prevent shingles, they can also prevent postherpetic neuralgia and other painful complications from shingles. However, these vaccines are not labeled to treat PHN.
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Do I Need To Pay For Shingles Immunisation
Vaccines covered by the NIP are free for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family are eligible to receive.
Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.
If you are not eligible for free vaccine, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.
Research Into Mrna Vaccines For Shingles
Several companies are researching the potential use of mRNA vaccines for shingles. Pfizer and BioNTech are partnering on an mRNA shingles vaccine just as they did with vaccines for the flu and COVID-19.
A major advantage to the technology is the ability to develop new vaccines quickly. The fact that mRNA vaccines are synthetic and dont rely on actual virus particles also means they can be quickly produced in large numbers.
While the Shingrix vaccination is considered safe, the FDA has confirmed a link between Shingrix and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Phasing out the old vaccine with the introduction of a new one, as the FDA did when Shingrix replaced Zostavax, might eliminate this potential issue.
Pfizer and BioNTech hope to begin clinical trials later this year.
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How Can I Get The Shingles Vaccine
You can buy the shingles vaccine at most pharmacies and travel clinics. ShingrixÂ® is given as a series of 2 doses, 2 to 6 months apart, and costs about $150/dose. ZostavaxÂ® II is given as 1 dose and costs about $200. Some health insurance plans may cover the cost of the vaccine check with your provider.
If you buy the vaccine at a travel clinic, a doctor or nurse on site will be able to immunize you. Most pharmacists in B.C. are also able to immunize.
If you want to be immunized by your doctor, find out if they have a supply of the shingles vaccine.
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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More Information On Side Effects
Reactions listed under possible side effects or adverse events on vaccine product information sheets may not all be directly linked to the vaccine. See Vaccine side effects and adverse reactions for more information on why this is the case.
If you are concerned about any reactions that occur after vaccination, consult your doctor. In the UK you can report suspected vaccine side effects to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency through the Yellow Card Scheme . See more information on the Yellow Card scheme and monitoring of vaccine safety.
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Does The Shingles Vaccine Contain Thimerosal
You may be concerned about additives to the shingles vaccine, like thimerosal.
Thimerosal is a preservative that contains mercury. Its added to some vaccines to prevent bacteria and other germs from growing in them. The shingles vaccine contains thimerosal.
The worry about thimerosal arose when early research linked it to autism. This connection has since been found to be untrue.
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Who Should Get The Shingles Vaccine
The CDC recommends all healthy adults ages 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine to prevent shingles and problems that can develop after youve had the disease. The two doses should be separated by two to six months. You should get the shingles vaccine even if you:
- Have had shingles: If youve had shingles in the past, you should get the shingles vaccine to help prevent getting the disease again. You should wait until the shingles rash is gone before getting the vaccine.
- Arent sure if youve had chickenpox: Studies show more than 99% of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox at some point in their lives. You should get the shingles vaccine whether or not you remember having chickenpox because theyre caused by the same virus.
- Received the old shingles vaccine : Before November 18, 2020, people were vaccinated with a shingles vaccine called Zostavax. You cant get Zostavax in the United States anymore. If you were vaccinated with Zostavax, you should get vaccinated with the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix.
Is Shingrix Or Zostavax Better
Shingrix is more effective than Zostavax. Shingrix is 97% effective at preventing shingles in adults aged 50 to 69 years old whereas Zostavax is only 70% effective at preventing shingles in the same age group. Shingrix consistently prevents shingles in older adults while the effectiveness of Zostavax decreases with increasing age. However, Shingrix has more systemic side effects than Zostavax.
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Obstacles To Getting Vaccinated
Despite the fact that the small, but vocal, group of individuals who oppose vaccinations remains strong, Jain says she hasnt encountered much opposition to getting vaccinated among her patients.
A lot of patients will actually come to me asking how they can get the shingles vaccination, so I actually have experienced the opposite, she said. Theres a very small percentage of patients, Id say under 10 percent, that are very averse to getting vaccinations, though.
Jain said that with these patients, their concerns often center around possible adverse effects from the vaccination, fears that theyll contract shingles by getting the vaccination, or the belief that since theyve never had the illness, they dont need the vaccine.
Another big concern that patients have is cost, Jain told Healthline in March 2018. Zostavax cost $213, and Shingrix costs about $280 out of pocket.
Prices have fluctuated slightly in 2019, with Shingrix at $185 per injection (.
She explained that even insurance or Medicare coverage doesnt solve the problem.
The issue is that Medicare Part B is not covering it, Medicare Part D is covering part of it, and Medicaid may or may not cover it it really depends on the insurer and the insurance plan, she said. So, I think cost is also a big barrier for patients as well.
Is The Shingles Vaccine Safe
As with any vaccine, its possible to have some side effects after receiving it. In clinical studies, the side effects linked to this vaccine usually lasted only 2 to 3 days, and the most common ones were:
Pain and redness at the injection site
Most people report at least some arm pain after the injection. Some people reported that their side effects kept them from doing their usual daily activities. For this reason, its a good idea to plan to not do anything right after receiving your injection, just in case.
Severe allergic reaction to this vaccine is very rare. Symptoms of such a reaction include:
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Can Shingrix Cause A Rash
Its unlikely that a Shingrix injection will cause a rash. But note that an injection site reaction is different from a shingles rash.
A shingles rash, which is caused by shingles itself, is often painful. It commonly appears as blisters around the torso, neck, or face.
People who received Shingrix in didnt report shingles-like rashes.
The Food and Drug Administration approves vaccines such as Shingrix to prevent certain conditions.
Shingrix Vs Zostavax: How Do Various Shingles Vaccines Stack Up
Its important to understand what shingles is. Shingles is essentially a reactivation of chickenpox. Chickenpox is a bit of a misnomer. The pox ending refers to its blistering rash. For much of human history it was thought to be similar to smallpox . However, the two infections are entirely unrelated.
Why it was called chicken-pox is not entirely clear since the disease has nothing to do with chickens. A few theories have been put forward. One is that chicken-pox is a linguistic corruption of child-pox since the disease generally affects children. But the real reason is likely lost to history. In any case, we are better off referring to chickenpox by its scientific name of varicella.
Varicella is caused by the aptly named Varicella-zoster virus . Varicella is not a benign illness and it can be fatal, but most people survive the initial infection. However, even though the characteristic rash eventually disappears, the virus is never entirely cleared from the human body. It remains dormant in the dorsal root ganglia, a cluster of nerve cells that run parallel to the spine. Your immune system normally keeps the virus in check. But as we age, immunity can wane. By age 55, 30-40% of people have lost the specific immunity they had to the varicella-zoster virus and the virus can re-awaken.
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Can People Who Got The Shingles Vaccine Be Around Babies
Yes, people who had the shingles vaccine can be around babies. Unlike the previously available Zostavax vaccine, Shingrix does not contain live, weakened virus, so it does not replicate and people do not get a rash. Therefore, there is no chance of transmitting the virus to babies who are susceptible to chickenpox. Watch as Dr. Offit discusses being around babies after receiving a shingles vaccine in this short video, part of the series Talking About Vaccines with Dr. Paul Offit.
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.
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How Do We Know The Vaccine Is Safe
All medicines are tested for safety and effectiveness by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency . The shingles vaccine meets the high safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries. The vaccine has been given to millions of people worldwide.
Once they’re in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the MHRA.
What Are The Side Effects
Shingrix can make the area where you get the shot swell or feel sore. Other effects include:
- Many people who get the vaccine have muscle aches, headaches, or feel tired.
- About 1 in 4 people have a fever or an upset stomach.
Younger people are more likely to have these side effects, and they typically last 2 or 3 days.
Itâs also possible to have an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the vaccine. If you have problems breathing, feel your face or throat swelling, or feel weak or dizzy after the shot, call 911 and get medical help right away.
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