Each year an estimated one million Americans will develop shingles, a painful rash caused by the same virus responsible for chickenpox. Shingles infect the nerve supply to areas of your skin, creating unbearable burning pain or tingling that’s sensitive to the touch. Fluid-filled blisters break open and crust over before finally healing. The entire ordeal can last up to five weeks.
Vaccination has been key in preventing shingles and now you have a new option.
Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles. If you’re lucky enough to have never had chicken pox growing up, it’s not possible to get shingles. However, once exposed to chickenpox, the virus can lay dormant in your system for years, only to strike when you’re much older.
Shingles can cause serious complications, including postherpetic neuralgia, a painful nerve condition that lasts long after the blisters are gone. It can happen when the virus damages nerve fibers, causing them to send exaggerated pain messages to the brain. And getting shingles in or around the eye can lead to vision loss. The shingles vaccine is a must for preventing these complications.
When it comes to preventing the agonizingly painful rash of shingles and its complications, a new vaccine has been approved that’s much more effective at protecting adults of all ages. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new shingles vaccine called Shingrix. We recommend that adults 50 and over get the new vaccine, instead of ZostavaxⓇ, the previous one.
Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and its complications in all age groups and is 97% effective in adults age 50-69. In comparison, Zostavax lowers the risk of getting shingles by only 51% and postherpetic neuralgia by 67% in adults under 70, and is even less effective in adults 70 and older.
While Zostavax contains only a weakened form of the virus, Shingrix contains a substance that strengthens your immune system against the virus so that it’s stronger at fighting off the virus.
Your chances of getting shingles increases once you reach age 50. Shingrix is a superior vaccine for adults 50 and older because it strengthens the immune response, providing longer-lasting protection. While Zostavax is approved for adults 50 and over, it was never recommended for this age group due to concerns over fading protection. Now that Shingrix is available, you can get protection earlier with the new vaccine.
Even if you’ve had the Zostavax vaccine, Dr. Martinez recommends that you get the Shingrix shot. It’s not only safe to do so, but it provides stronger protection against shingles and it lasts longer than Zostavax.
Unfortunately, having shingles doesn’t protect you from getting it again. Even if you’ve had shingles before, you can have a second episode. For this reason, it’s recommended that you come in for new the Shingrix vaccination, even if you’ve already suffered through one bout of the condition. A recurrent episode of shingles can be even more severe than the first one, so it’s important to protect yourself.
Dr. Martinez and the team at the People’s Care Health Systems can administer the new Shingrix vaccine to help keep you protected. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call our office in Riverside, California, or click the button to book online.