Ever Had Chickenpox? You Could Get Shingles
Caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, shingles is a viral infection that can lead to a rash and painful blisters. While anyone who has ever had chickenpox can get shingles, the infection is more common in people over the age of 50. Does that mean that everyone should get the immunization for the infection? Here’s what to know about the shingles vaccine.
Age increases risk
Because age is a risk factor for shingles, anyone over the age of 60 should get the shingles vaccine. Over 99% of Americans over the age of 40 have had chickenpox, which increases the risk of getting shingles. Currently, the available vaccine lasts for about 5 years. People should start getting the immunization at age 60 and again every 5 years. There is no maximum age for the vaccine.
Is there any reason not to get immunized?
Experts advise that all adults over 60 should get the vaccination, whether or not the patient remembers having chickenpox. There are a few people, however, who should not get the shingles vaccine. This includes anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to gelatin, people with weakened immune systems, or women who might be pregnant.
What are the side effects?
Like any medicine, the shingles vaccine comes with a small risk of side effects. Keep in mind, however, that health experts advise getting the immunization because the benefits of the vaccine typically outweigh the risks. Some people may experience mild swelling or soreness at the injection site or a mild headache after receiving the shot. Some people may develop a mild rash near the injection site. Typically, this symptom goes away within a few days.
How well do vaccines work?
The shingles vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of getting shingles by up to 51% and to reduce the risk of a complication called postherpetic neuralgia by up to 67%. Studies have shown that immunization is most effective in adults aged 60-69, although vaccination still provides benefits after the age of 70.
What if I’ve already had shingles?
Just like many infections, people can get shingles twice. In fact, people who have already been infected with shingles may even have an increased risk of getting the infection again. Because of this, all older adults should get the shingles vaccine, even after already having shingles. Just wait until symptoms clear before getting immunized. For more information about vaccines, speak with a pharmacist or other healthcare provider.