Shingles Vaccine: Who Should Get It?

Friday, 10 Jan 2014 03:37 AM

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Shingles (herpes zoster) is a contagious disease that leads to the development of blisters and rashes in the face and body (usually on one side). Blisters developed due to shingles and other symptoms of the disease can be very painful. Risk of post-therapeutic neuralgia, which is an increased risk of pain in the nerves and persisting symptoms even after the disease has disappeared, is also associated with shingles.

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Shingles can take two to four weeks to cure and the risk of recurrence of the symptoms and increased pain due to neuralgia make it indispensable for elderly people to take the shingles vaccine. During the period when the rash lasts, the disease can be contagious and risk of transmission remains.
 
Taking the shingles vaccine is a suitable alternative to reduce the risk of acquiring the disease and preventing the onset of symptoms. The cost of shingles vaccine can be covered with your medical insurance policy, and the symptoms and pain associated with the disease can be avoided.
 
How is Shingles Caused?
 
The actual causes of shingles remain unknown. However, studies state that shingles is caused by reactivation of the varizella virus that remains dormant in the nerves after a previous chicken pox attack. Causes for reactivation and symptoms of shingles are known to be associated with aging and trauma.
 
Symptoms of Shingles

Common symptoms of shingles include severe rash, blisters in the face and ofter on one side of the body, redness of the skin, fever, headache, chills, and stomach upset. Risk of acquiring other ailments such as pneumonia, hearing problems, brain inflammation, and blindness also need to be considered. Given these risk factors associated with shingles and that it is contagious while the rash lasts, it is highly recommended that those over 60 take shingles vaccine to suppress symptoms and prevent side effects.
 
Who Should Get the Shingles Vaccine?

The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that shingles occurs commonly in Americans who are over 60. The CDC states that 1 in 3 Americans develops shingles in their lifetime and that those over 60 are at a high risk. To prevent the risk of acquiring this disease, CDC has recommended that those over 60 take the Zostavax vaccine.

Symptoms of shingles are also seen in people between 50 and 59, and FDA has approved administration of shingles vaccine for people in this age group for reducing symptoms and preventing the spread of the disease while it is contagious.
 
What is the Shingles Vaccine?

The shingles vaccine is actually a live dose of the virus in a weakened form. Some symptoms such as rash may appear after administering shingles vaccine. However, there is no need to worry, and the disease is no longer contagious when the blisters are not erupting.
 
How is the Shingles Vaccine Administered?

The shingles vaccine is administered via a one-time injection, usually injected in the upper arm.
 
Cost of the Shingles Vaccine

Most mature insurance plans in the U.S. cover the shingles vaccine and you may not bear the cost of taking the vaccine. However, if you are on a preliminary Mediclaim plan, you might have to bear the cost of taking shingles vaccine.

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Who Should Not Take the Shingles Vaccine?

People with the following symptoms and conditions should avoid taking the shingles vaccine:
 
Those who exhibit symptoms of serious allergic reactions in response to neomycin and gelatin

• Those with HIV/AIDS and other diseases that affect the immune system, since the symptoms of shingles may be more violent and difficult to control

• Those undergoing cancer treatment

• Those receiving immunosuppressive drugs and steroids
 
• Those who are suffering from shingles should not take vaccine until the symptoms die down

• Those with untreated tuberculosis infection

Women who are pregnant or are likely to become pregnant

In case you are in doubt, it is safe to take shingles vaccine along with the flu vaccine in autumn, if you are planning for a medical visit.

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