Shingles is a painful rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in the body for years. In some people, the virus reactivates and causes shingles. The varicella-zoster virus is responsible for both chickenpox and shingles. After a chickenpox infection, the virus doesn’t leave the body. Instead, it goes dormant, often hiding in the nervous system. Factors like stress, age, and certain medical conditions can reactivate the virus, leading to a shingles outbreak. A shingles vaccine or zoster vaccine can help prevent this.
Symptoms of Shingles
The first signs of shingles usually include burning, numbness, tingling, or itching on one part of the body or face. This is soon followed by a red rash that typically starts as small, red spots and progresses to clusters of fluid-filled blisters. Over time, these blisters pop and form crusty scabs.
Duration and Stages of Shingles
A shingles outbreak generally passes through several stages, starting with tingling or localized pain and followed by a red rash and then fluid-filled blisters. These blisters will then crust over. The entire process can take 3-5 weeks.
Transmission of Shingles
While shingles cannot be passed from person to person, someone who hasn’t had chickenpox can get that disease if they are exposed to open shingles sores. Therefore, it’s crucial for individuals with shingles to avoid pregnant women, newborns, and those with weakened immune systems.
Zoster Vaccine Cost, Insurance, and Manufacturers
As of November 18, 2020, Zostavax is no longer available for use in the United States, having been replaced by the newer vaccine, Shingrix, which has been shown to be more effective.
Shingrix (RZV): This is the newer and more widely recommended vaccine. It is a non-live, recombinant subunit vaccine and is recommended for healthy adults aged 50 and older. Shingrix is currently the preferred vaccine for the prevention of shingles in the U.S. due to its higher efficacy rate and longer-lasting protection.
The cost of the shingles vaccine can vary based on location and insurance coverage. Many health insurance plans, including Medicare Part D, cover the vaccine. Several pharmaceutical companies manufacture the vaccine. Each may have slightly different formulations or recommendations. It’s essential to check with your insurance provider and healthcare professional regarding the costs and coverage. It’s a good idea to discuss the options with a healthcare provider.
Zoster Vaccine Efficacy
The shingles vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent shingles. The vaccine is recommended for people over 60 years of age and those with weakened immune systems.
Varicella Zoster Vaccine Dose, Route & Administration:
The vaccine is given in two doses, 2-6 months apart, by injection into the upper arm. It is administered intramuscularly, meaning it is given as an injection into the muscle, usually in the upper arm. The shingles vaccine is about 90% effective at preventing shingles in people over 60 years of age. It is also effective at preventing serious complications of shingles, such as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a chronic pain condition that can last for months or even years after the shingles rash goes away.
The shingles vaccine is generally safe. The most common side effects are mild and go away on their own within a few days. These side effects may include:
- Pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site.
- Muscle aches.
Serious side effects from the shingles vaccine are very rare.
Natural Immunity Vs. Vaccination
Having had chickenpox or shingles in the past doesn’t provide complete immunity. The body’s natural immune response might wane over time, making reinfection possible. Vaccination, on the other hand, offers a more robust and lasting defense against the virus.
Follow-up, Booster Shots, and Interactions
Currently, the CDC recommends two doses of the shingles vaccine for maximum protection. Some individuals, especially those with compromised immune systems, may require additional booster shots.
Regular check-ups with a healthcare professional can help determine the need for further vaccination. While the shingles vaccine is safe for most, certain medications and conditions might interact with the vaccine or make it less effective. It’s essential to discuss any current medications or health conditions with a healthcare provider before getting vaccinated.
Population Statistics On Shingles
Approximately one in three people in the U.S. will develop shingles in their lifetime. The risk significantly increases with age, with about half of all cases occurring in those aged 60 and above.
Benefits of Shingles Vaccine Over Time
The protective benefits of the shingles vaccine remain high for the first few years after vaccination. However, its effectiveness might decrease over time. Ongoing research aims to determine how long the vaccine provides protection and when, or if, booster shots might be necessary.
The shingles vaccine is not a live vaccine, so it cannot give you shingles. The shingles vaccine is not 100% effective, so it is still possible to get shingles even if you have been vaccinated. However, the vaccine will make it less likely that you will get shingles and less likely that you will have a severe case of shingles if you do get it. The vaccine is safe for most people. However, it is not recommended for people who have a severe allergy to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.
- Shingles is a painful rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus.
- The shingles vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent shingles.
- The vaccine is about 90% effective at preventing shingles in people over 60 years of age.
- The vaccine is generally safe. The most common side effects are mild and go away on their own within a few days.
If you have any questions or concerns about the shingles vaccine, talk to your doctor. They can help you decide if the vaccine is right for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.
How are shingles spread?
Shingles are not spread from person to person. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus that lies dormant in the body after a person has chickenpox. The virus can reactivate years later and cause shingles.
Who is at risk for shingles?
Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for shingles. However, some people are at higher risk, such as:
- People over the age of 50.
- People with a weakened immune system.
- People who have had cancer.
- People who are taking certain medications, such as steroids.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
The symptoms of shingles usually start with pain, tingling, or numbness in one area of the body. This is followed by a rash that appears in the same area. The rash can be painful and itchy.
How are shingles diagnosed?
Shingles is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms and medical history. A doctor may also do a physical exam to look for the rash.
How are shingles treated?
There is no cure for shingles, but there are treatments that can help relieve the symptoms. Treatment may include:
- Antiviral medication, such as acyclovir or valacyclovir.
- Pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine.
Is there a vaccine for shingles?
Yes, there is a vaccine for shingles. The vaccine is called Shingrix. It is about 90% effective at preventing shingles.
How effective is the shingles vaccine?
The vaccine is about 90% effective at preventing shingles. It is also effective at reducing the severity of the shingles rash and pain.
Is the shingles vaccine safe?
The vaccine is generally safe. The most common side effects are mild and go away on their own within a few days. These side effects may include:
- Pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site.
Serious side effects are very rare.
What are the risks of not getting the shingles vaccine?
The risks of not getting the shingles vaccine are:
- You are more likely to get shingles.
- You are more likely to have a severe case of shingles.
Is the shingles vaccine recommended for all people?
The vaccine is recommended for people over the age of 50. It is also recommended for people who are over the age of 19 and have a weakened immune system.
When should I get the shingles vaccine?
The shingles vaccine can be given starting at age 50. It is best to get the vaccine before you are 60 years old.
Where can I get the shingles vaccine?
The vaccine is available at most doctor’s offices and clinics. You can also get the vaccine at some pharmacies.
What are the different types of shingles vaccines?
There are two types of shingles vaccines available in the United States:
- Shingrix: This vaccine is given in two doses, 2-6 months apart.
- Zostavax: This vaccine is given in one dose.
Shingrix is more effective than Zostavax at preventing shingles and reducing the severity of the shingles rash and pain.
Which shingles vaccine is better?
Shingrix is the better vaccine. It is more effective at preventing shingles and reducing the severity of the shingles rash and pain.
Can I get the shingles vaccine if I have had a reaction to a previous dose?
Yes, you can still get the shingles vaccine if you have had a reaction to a previous dose. However, your doctor will need to weigh the risks and benefits of getting the vaccine.
What should I do if I have a reaction to the shingles vaccine?
If you have a reaction to the vaccine, call your doctor right away. The most common reactions are mild and go away on their own within a few days. However, some people may have more serious reactions.
Your doctor will be able to tell you what to do if you have a reaction to the shingles vaccine.
How long does the shingles vaccine last?
The shingles vaccine provides immunity for at least 4 years. However, it is not yet known how long the protection will last.
Is there anything else I can do to protect myself from shingles?
In addition to getting the vaccine, there are other things you can do to protect yourself from shingles:
- Avoid contact with people who have shingles.
- Take care of your skin, such as by using sunscreen and avoiding scratching.
- Eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep.
What are the risks of getting shingles?
The risks of getting shingles include:
- Painful rash
- Shingles can also cause complications, such as:
- Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN): This is a long-lasting pain that can occur after shingles.
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss
If you are concerned about shingles, talk to your doctor.