Skip to content

avoid shingles by getting vaccinated

November 6, 2007

Did you know that you can get a shingles vaccine? And that you should go get one as soon as possible?

Well, you can and you should, because shingles is hell. It’s a terrible thing to experience, and many people over 50 get it. My grandmother is a sufferer, and I’ve met several people affected by it. Someone I know came down with shingles on a recent road trip, and while he talked at length about how painful it was to experience, my jaw hung open in disbelief.  He described extremely painful skin sensations that led to blisters and crusting, along with deeper nerve pain emanating from his back and leading around his shoulders.

The scary fact is that anyone who has had chicken pox can get shingles later in life – that’s me and you!

Shingles and chicken pox are both caused by the same virus, herpes zoster, and is related to the other herpes viruses we hope to avoid in life. Both affect the skin, but shingles is specifically a nerve condition. After you have chicken pox, the virus doesn’t go away. Instead it hibernates in the ganglion of your spinal cord. Shingles occurs when that dormant virus is reactivated, which usually happens later in life. For some people shingles is reactivated due to stress or other bodily distress as well.

What you should know is that if you don’t get antibiotic treatment within 72 hours of its activation, you are stuck with its long cycle of painful rashing, blistering, and skin crusting. Read up on early symptoms here. In the U.S., it affects nearly 2% of the population of people over 55 years old. More than 500,000 Americans get shingles every year.

But no need to worry about this sucker getting to you! Next time you see your doctor, ask for the shingles vaccine, and prevent yourself from suffering this lame and painful virus. The vaccine, Zostovax was approved by the FDA a year ago, and is recommended for everyone over 60. From WebMD:

Without vaccination, about 20% of people who have had chickenpox eventually will get shingles. A person who lives to be 85 has a 50% chance of getting shingles.

Shingles is a bad enough disease to be a good reason to get vaccinated.

But in about a third of cases, shingles turns into an excruciatingly painful disease called postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN. A smaller percentage will get a painful, blinding disease called ophthalmic zoster.

shingles vaccineIt turns out that the vaccine costs quite a bit, and insurance may only cover part of the cost, if any of it. One article that I found reports the vaccine costs $200 – a pretty penny for prevention. But I bet most people who have been through a bout of shingles would gladly have paid to not go through such a nasty experience!

If you’re not old enough to worry about shingles, ask your parents and grandparents if they have heard about the vaccine – they’ll thank you for it.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. carla spaulding permalink
    September 10, 2008 12:12 pm

    my step son is 16 years old and has shingles,should are family get the shot i have a three year old nephew who hasn’t had chicken pox yet should i worry

  2. September 12, 2008 6:36 pm


  3. Ann Gilbert permalink
    November 15, 2008 3:35 pm

    I presently have the shingles, and was diagnosed with them 3 days ago.
    I had to call and pratically demand and anti-viral as the dr. said there was no treatment I hear of this vaccine. I am 57 now , how do I convince my dr. that I need and want this vaccine.
    Is there a specific place I can go to get it ?
    I really need some answers here as the doctors in my area are pre-historic.

  4. December 29, 2008 10:12 pm

    i have them on my neck and penis. what should i do?

  5. Kell permalink
    March 20, 2009 7:34 pm

    Carla, I would definitely worry about your 3 year old nephew. Since he hasn’t had the chicken pox, and shingles is an outbreak/awakening of the dormant chicken pox, he is definitely at risk for getting it. Meanwhile, as long as you and your family have had the chicken pox, you are fine.

  6. July 18, 2009 6:17 pm

    Why vaccinate when there are natural alternatives?

    ‘T’ai Chi alone induced an immune response that was comparable to the [shingles] vaccine’
    Harvard Health Letter ~ June 2007

    Exercise produces the same results.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: