What If Ive Never Had Chickenpox
Almost everyone born before 1980 tests positive for exposure to varicella, Orrange said. Thats why the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices considers people born before 1980 immune to the varicella virus. Even if you never broke out in the telltale rash, if youre 38 years old or older, you almost certainly have the virus lying dormant in your system.
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Shingrix
Studies show that Shingrix is safe. The vaccine helps your body create a strong defense against shingles. As a result, you are likely to have temporary side effects from getting the shots. The side effects might affect your ability to do normal daily activities for 2 to 3 days.
Most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after getting Shingrix, and some also had redness and swelling where they got the shot. Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. Some people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.
You might have a reaction to the first or second dose of Shingrix, or both doses. If you experience side effects, you may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Guillain-Barré syndrome , a serious nervous system disorder, has been reported very rarely after Shingrix. There is also a very small increased risk of GBS after having shingles.
If you experience side effects from Shingrix, you should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System . Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS websiteexternal icon, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
If you have any questions about side effects from Shingrix, talk with your doctor.
What Should You Do If You Have Shingles
These simple steps can help you reduce the severity and spread of shingles:
- Cover the rash at all times
- Do not touch or scratch the rash
- Wash hands often to prevent the spread of the virus
- Before the rash develops crusts, avoid contact with:
- pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or been vaccinated against it
- premature or low birth-weight infants
- people with weakened immune systems including those receiving immunosuppressive medications or undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplant recipients, and people with HIV.
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Shingrix Dosage And Schedule
Shingrix should be administered to immunocompetent adults aged 50 years and older and adults aged 19 years who are or will be immunodeficient or immunosuppressed because of disease or therapy as a two-dose series , 2 to 6 months apart . However, for persons who are or will be immunodeficient or immunosuppressed and who would benefit from completing the series in a shorter period, the second dose can be administered 12 months after the first. See more detailed clinical guidance.
If more than 6 months have elapsed since the first dose of Shingrix, you should administer the second dose as soon as possible. However, you do not need to restart the vaccine series.
If the second dose is given less than 4 weeks after the first dose, the second dose should be considered invalid. A valid second dose should be administered 2 months after the invalid dose .
First Could You Describe Briefly What Shingles Is
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus which is the same virus that causes chicken pox. After you have had chicken pox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue and years later can reactivate, causing a painful rash that looks like blisters. Most often the rash appears in a line around the right or left side of your torso, but can affect any part of the body including the face and eyes. Individuals have a 20-30% chance of getting shingles during their lifetime, and it is more likely to occur when you get older. The most common complication of shingles is post herpetic neuralgia, which causes persistent pain long after the blisters have disappeared and can last for months.
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Shingles Vaccine: Expert Q& a
Never Too Late to Seek Protection Against ‘Debilitating’ Virus
Shingles can make everyday tasks — from getting dressed to getting into bed — a painful proposition. The culprit behind this agonizing rash, which is especially common in older people, is the same virus responsible for another common but debilitating condition: chicken pox.
“Most of us never get rid of the chicken pox virus,” William Schaffner, MD, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, tells WebMD. “It lies dormant like a bear in a cave during winter. When a person gets shingles, the virus has reawakened.”
Fortunately, a vaccine is available that greatly reduces the risk of shingles. Schaffner, who is also a professor in Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s infectious diseases division and chair of the schoolâs department of preventive medicine, spoke with WebMD about getting protected.
Administration With Other Vaccines
CDC general recommendations advise that recombinant and adjuvanted vaccines, such as Shingrix, can be administered concomitantly, at different anatomic sites, with other adult vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines. Concomitant administration of Shingrix with Fluarix Quadrivalent , 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine and Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine, Adsorbed , and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine has been studied, and there was no evidence for interference in the immune response to either vaccine or safety concerns. Coadministration of Shingrix with adjuvanted influenza vaccine and COVID-19 vaccines is being studied.
Shingrix and pneumococcal vaccine can be administered at the same visit if the person is eligible for both. When both pneumococcal conjugate vaccine PCV13 and PPSV23 are recommended for an adult, PCV13 should always be administered first and can be administered concomitantly with Shingrix.
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Reasons To Get The Shingles Vaccine
Once a person develops chickenpox after contracting the varicella-zoster virus, the virus never leaves the body. It remains dormant in the nerve roots and can reappear as shingles later in life.
The primary symptom of shingles is a painful rash on one side of the body, most often on the torso or face. People initially have pain or a burning sensation on the skin without a rash, and then painful blisters develop. The rash lasts approximately seven to 10 days and fully clears within two to four weeks.
The likelihood of developing shingles increases dramatically after age 50. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all adults age 50 and over receive two doses of Shingrix to prevent shingles. The vaccine is recommended even if a person is unsure if they have ever had chickenpox.
People with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for shingles. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration also recently approved Shingrix vaccination for adults age 18 and older who are at risk for shingles due to immunodeficiency or immunosuppression caused by an underlying disease or medication.
Whats The Difference Between Chickenpox And Shingles
Adults can develop shingles if theyve already had chickenpox. Also called herpes zoster, shingles is a reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus doesnt entirely disappear it lies dormant in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. When it springs into action again as a painful skin rash, thats shingles.
This time, the pain will likely come before the rash some people only experience the pain without any visible symptoms. Like chickenpox, shingles usually isnt life-threatening, but it can cause complications, including neurological problems, skin infections and eye infections that lead to vision loss.
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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.
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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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.
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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Are There Any Reasons I Shouldn’t Have The Shingles Vaccine
You shouldn’t have the shingles vaccine if:
- you’ve had a severe reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine
- you’ve had a severe reaction to a previous dose of the chickenpox vaccine
If you don’t have a severely weakened immune system, the shingles vaccine you’ll be offered contains a small trace of pork gelatine.
Gelatine is a common and essential ingredient in many medicines, including some vaccines.
Many faith groups, including Muslim and Jewish communities, have approved the use of gelatine-containing vaccines. It is, however, an individual choice whether or not to receive the shingles vaccine.
When Should I Get The Second Dose
The CDC recommends that adults ages 50 and older get a second dose of Shingrix two to six months after their first dose. If youve waited longer than six months since your first dose of Shingrix, its safe to get a second dose right away. Most people dont need to repeat the first dose.
Some immunocompromised adults may need a second dose within one to two months. If you have a disease or are taking medication that affects your immune system, talk to your healthcare provider about the best timeline for your two doses of the shingles vaccine.
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How Can I Take Care Of Myself
- Take a pain-relief medicine such as acetaminophen. Take other medicine as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
- Put cool, moist washcloths on the rash.
- Rest in bed during the early stages if you have fever and other symptoms.
- Try not to let clothing or bed linens rub against the rash and irritate it.
- You develop worsening pain or fever.
- You develop a severe headache, stiff neck, hearing loss, or changes in your ability to think.
- The blisters show signs of bacterial infection, such as increasing pain or redness, or milky yellow drainage from the blister sites.
- The blisters are close to the eyes or you have pain in your eyes or trouble seeing.
- You have trouble walking.
What Are The Risks And Benefits Of This Vaccine
“Shingles is not life-threatening per se, but it can be pretty debilitating. If it involves your face or eyes, it can threaten your eyesight. Even after the rash abates, you can be left with pain in that section of the body that can be set off by even trivial stimuli, such as the touch of a shirt against the skin. Sometimes it can prevent people from leaving their house. The older we get, the greater the risk. If you survive to age 80, you have a 25% to 50% chance of having had shingles.”
“This is an extraordinarily safe vaccine. A few percentage points of people get chicken pox blisters around the site, but they are harmless and they go away.”
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When They Start How Long They Last
The shingles vaccine is given in a two-shot series. You may experience side effects after the first, second, or both shots. Most of the time, these symptoms are mild and occur immediately following vaccination. They typically only last for two or three days.
Side effects of the shingles vaccine are more common in younger people, and might interrupt your normal daily activities for a few days.
This may seem like a downside of the shingles vaccine, but remember that these symptoms are a result of the creation of a strong shingles defense within your body.
It is OK to take Tylenol or Advil after a shingles vaccine to relieve symptoms. Rest and plenty of fluids may help, too.
Shingles Vaccination What You Should Know:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends shingles vaccine for people 60 years of age and older. This is a one-time vaccination to prevent shingles. 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 dont remember getting the disease.
Your risk for getting shingles begins to rise around age 50. However, shingles vaccine is only recommended for persons age 60 and older because the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine have only been studied in this age group.
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 healthcare provider. Generally, a person should make sure that the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated.
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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.
How Long After Shingles Can A Person Get Vaccinated
Keith Roach, M.D.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 81 years old and was diagnosed with shingles at the end of October 2020. After taking famciclovir, I am healing, but still have a scaly rash and shooting pains on the right side of my head where the shingles occurred. I was told that the pain could last for a year or more. Is this true? The initial outbreak was on my scalp, forehead, brow and eye area. I did see my ophthalmologist and was fortunate that the shingles did not get into my eye, just on my eyelid.
I also saw my physician, who recommended I get the shingles vaccine in February 2021. My eye doctor disagrees and said to wait six to nine months. What is the recommended time span between the onset of shingles and getting the vaccine? How long does the vaccine protect someone? Once you have the vaccine, can you ever get shingles again? L.H.
ANSWER: Both your doctors are right. Your regular doctor who recommended a four-month time span is correct, but your eye doctor, who said six to nine months, is right also. In fact, the vaccine may be given at any time after the shingles lesions are healed . Getting shingles again within a year is very unlikely, so it is fine to wait up to a year after the bout of shingles.
The length of protection seems to be long. But this is still a new vaccine, and it is unclear how long the protection will last.
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