Have you been vaccinated against shingles yet?
Most people know that shingles disease triggers an unsightly, painful rash. What most don’t know is that shingles affect roughly 1 million individuals in the U.S. annually – and that case numbers in those under the age of 80 are rising.
There are many common misconceptions about shingles, from its symptoms to getting vaccinated against it. That’s why we’ve created this article: to dispel some of the myths about shingles and encourage our community to get the Shingrix vaccine later in life.
Keep reading to learn what you need to know about the disease, shingles myths, treatment, and how you can get vaccinated.
Myth #1: Shingles Is Just an Itchy Red Rash
There are some people that develop an annoying rash from shingles and do not seek treatment because they believe this will be the worse side effect they will experience. As a result, they unknowingly put themselves at risk of other more serious complications, such as vision loss and pneumonia.
In the worst cases, shingles can even cause long-term nerve pain, also called postherpetic neuralgia. This side effect can result in pain that lasts long beyond the shingles rash and blisters.
Rather than waiting until symptoms worsen or become unbearable, it’s crucial to seek medical attention as soon as they appear. By getting treatment quickly, you can minimize the risks and ensure a full recovery.
Myth #2: Only Seniors Over the Age of 65 Get Shingles
The truth is that anyone can get shingles, especially if they had chicken pox as a child. However, it is rare to get shingles before the age of 40, and most cases do occur in people aged 50 or older.
People over the age of 65 with weakened immune systems are at the highest risk of getting shingles. This includes elderly patients with HIV, as well as those on medications that might lower their immune systems.
Myth #3: The Shingles Vaccination Isn’t Effective
Many people believe that the vaccination for shingles does little in the way of protection. In reality, it is up to 97% effective at preventing shingles in healthy adults ages 50 to 69, and nearly as effective in those over the age of 70.
Therefore, the CDC recommends the Shingrix vaccination to all healthy adults over the age of 50.
Myth #4: You’re Safe If You’ve Had Shingles Once
One of the worst shingles myths is that if you’ve had shingles before, you are immune to getting shingles again. That is not the case.
Although it is uncommon, patients can get shingles multiple times. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (the same virus that causes chickenpox). This virus sticks around in the body after chickenpox symptoms subside, and in some cases, the virus stays dormant in your nerves for years until it is reactivated.
Facts About Shingles
The History of Shingles
Shingles might be a relatively well-known condition today, but it’s been around for centuries. Throughout the course of history, it was often mistaken for other conditions, like leprosy or smallpox. It wasn’t until the 1800s that it was recognized as its own disease.
Then, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the first shingles vaccine was developed – and it took nearly five centuries for it to become widely used.
Today, shingles is a common but painful disease that affects millions. Although it is often painful and uncomfortable, there are treatments available – as well as steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing shingles, such as getting vaccinated.
Shingles Symptoms and Common Complications
The symptoms of shingles typically include…
- A painful rash
- Tingling or burning sensations
- A fever
- Muscle weakness
In some more serious shingles cases, the disease can also result in long-term nerve pain, as well as vision loss, skin infections, and even neurological problems like postherpetic neuralgia. Shingles can also trigger complications that result in other illnesses, such as pneumonia.
Diagnosis of Shingles and Treatment
In most cases, shingles is diagnosed based on the tell-tale shingles rash blisters. Healthcare providers can also take a sample of the fluid from the open blisters to test for the varicella-zoster virus.
If you suspect you have shingles, visit a healthcare provider or doctor’s office for diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.
Fortunately, shingles treatment has progressed significantly. Healthcare providers typically prescribe antiviral medications to shorten the duration of the illness, as well as pain relievers, topical creams, and medications for nerve pain.
It’s been found that antiviral treatment is the most effective for shingles when started within 72 hours of when the shingles rash appears. The sooner patients can seek medication to treat shingles, the better.
About the Shingrix Vaccine
The Shingrix vaccine was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017. It works by inserting a protein found in the varicella-zoster virus into the body. This strengthens the body’s immune response against shingles and decreases the patient’s risk.
The shingles vaccine is designed to be given in two doses via the upper arm, with the second dose administered two to six months after the first dose.
Although shingles vaccination rates have increased dramatically over the last couple of decades, we’re still far from reaching 100%. It’s estimated that about 17 million people have received at least one dose of the shingles vaccination, but the shots have been recommended for over 100 million individuals.
How Klingensmith’s Can Help
At Klingensmith’s Drug Store, we’re committed to helping customers separate myths from facts about all vaccinations, including the Shingrix vaccine. Our team of professional pharmacists is here to administer shingles vaccines, but also to help you make the best choice for your health.
If you’re ready to get vaccinated against shingles at Klingensmith’s, you’re welcome to drop by any of our locations without an appointment. You’ll receive attention from a trusted, reliable pharmacist who truly has your best interests at heart.
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
First and foremost, it is important to note that the Shingrix vaccine is only approved for those who are at least 50 years of age. This means it is not approved for pregnant women, minors, or anyone deemed ineligible by healthcare providers.
The CDC does recommend that all adults aged 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine, even if they have had shingles before. Those who have had shingles are still at risk of future episodes of the disease, especially as they age.
It is especially important for people with weakened immune systems to get the shingles vaccine. If you are immunocompromised or have chronic health conditions, please speak to your healthcare provider to learn if you should be vaccinated.
How to Prepare for the Vaccine
If you have a scheduled appointment with a healthcare provider to receive the Shingrix vaccine, there are a few things you can do to ensure your experience goes smoothly.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows access to your shoulder.
- Bring your photo ID and insurance card to the vaccination site.
- Inform your vaccinator of your existing medical conditions or medications.
Potential Side Effects of the Shingles Vaccine
The shingles vaccine can cause some minor side effects, including redness, swelling, and soreness at the injection site. Some patients also experience bad headaches or fatigue on the same day, so plan to rest after your vaccination.
If you do experience discomfort, you can ice the shingles injection spot and take Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen as necessary. For any troubling symptoms, contact a healthcare provider.
Ready to Schedule Your Shingrix Vaccination?
Despite the shingles myths, getting vaccinated against shingles later in life is a key part of staying healthy and lowering your risk. Whether you’ve had chickenpox or shingles before, if you are over the age of 49, it’s time to talk to your healthcare provider about the Shingrix vaccine.
If you have questions about the shingles vaccination or varicella-zoster virus, don’t hesitate to contact Klingensmith’s team. We’re here to help you make informed decisions about your health, from learning about shingles vaccines to taking antiviral medication.
Ready to get vaccinated against shingles? Visit Klingensmith’s Drug Store today to get your vaccine and separate the shingles myths from facts.