If you’re 50 or older, the CDC is urging you to get a new vaccine that could save your life. Shingrix, a reformulated version of the CDC-recommended Zostavax, is nearly 90 percent effective at preventing shingles, a painful, blistering rash caused by herpes zoster (chicken pox).
• Most people think of chickenpox as a mild childhood illness. In seniors, however, shingles can be extremely dangerous and uncomfortable. Blisters cluster along nerve bundles, resulting in excruciating neuropathic pain.
• Shingles also carries a high risk for complications in patients over 50. It raises the risk for stroke, heart attack, pneumonia, permanent eye damage, Ramsay Hunt syndrome, and life-threatening bacterial infections.
• Shingles only occurs in patients who have had the chickenpox at least once in the past. But it isn’t clear exactly why some patients seem to be more prone to developing shingles than others. Chronic illnesses, stress, and low immune system activity likely play a role.
• Confoundingly, patients can’t always predict if or when they’ll experience shingles. It is possible to go 50 or more years without ever experiencing a breakout, only to find yourself hospitalized after something as simple as a cold triggers an outbreak. Like cold sores, shingles can return again and again.
• Shingrix comes in two separate doses. After receiving the first, you will receive the second six months later. By the eight-month mark, nearly 97 percent of people tested showed signs of permanent immunity.
• Want to seek out Shingrix to keep yourself self from harm? Speak with your pharmacist or physician about whether this important vaccine is right for you.