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Important Shingles Vaccine Warning

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Important Shingles Vaccine Warning

November 02
19:45 2017

Did you have chicken pox as a child or adult? If so, you stand a very good chance of developing shingles in your later years.

Chicken pox is a highly contagious disease that usually occurs in children, but can occur in adults. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which can be passed by contact and just being close to someone who is infected. It causes a fever, malaise (general feeling of discomfort or being ill without being able to pinpoint cause) and a rash that may form small blisters that can easily open, crust over and can leave distinctive scars.

After recovering from chicken pox, the virus often remains in the body for years in a dormant phase. As we age, our immune system often weakens. Other things can also weaken our immune system and when that happens, the varicella zoster virus can re-awaken and manifest itself as shingles. It is also known that some medications can awaken the virus, resulting in shingles.

The early symptoms of shingles can be very misleading. They may start with a headache and a sensitivity to light and a feeling like you have the flu, but without having a fever.

A few days later, itching will occur, followed by a rash that can form in a strip, band or area on the body. The rash consists of tiny red blisters which become quite painful. My father-in-law had shingles from his ear to his nose and said it felt like his skin was on fire. He also said it was extremely painful to open his eye.

Once shingles are manifested, there is no cure and it has to basically run its course, which is usually 4 to 6 weeks but can last longer.

There is a myth where many believe that once you have had shingles, you can’t get it again, but that is not true as 76-year-old Barbara Campbell of Fort Lauderdale, Florida will tell you. She has had shingles twice and is terrified of getting it again.

Many may wonder why she didn’t get the shingles vaccine, and if possible, she would have, but she had an allergy that prevented her from getting the standard shingles vaccine. It turns out that many people are like Campbell and are unable to take the shingles vaccine.

However, if she had been able to get the shingles vaccine, she would still not be as protected as she would hope. The shingles vaccine used is Zostavax, made by Merck from weakened zoster virus. It is a one dose vaccine, but an FDA panel is reporting that the effectiveness of Zostavax after 5-years drops to about 35%. The longer it has been since getting the Zostavax vaccine, the less it protects you from developing painful shingles.

However, there is new hope for Campbell and the many others. A new, more potent shingles vaccine has been developed by GlaxoSmithKline. The new vaccine is called Shingrix, which just received FDA approval on October 20, 2017. Unlike Zostavax, Shingrix is administered in 2 doses. It’s also possible that some like Campbell who could not take the Zostavax vaccine, may be able to get the Shingrix vaccine.

Furthermore, the federal panel that recommended the FDA approve Shingrix, is also recommending that EVERYONE who has received the Zostavax vaccine get re-vaccinated with Shingrix as it is not only more potent but has a much longer efficacy rate in preventing someone from developing the painful rash.

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