Skip to main content

Shingles Vaccination Now Can Save You Pain Down the Road

Hospital news | Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Benjamin Franklin was on to something back in the 1700s when he coined the phrase, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’’ Granted, he was not talking about getting the shingles vaccination since the FDA did not approve it until 2006. However, the phrase still rings true when contemplating whether or not the shingles vaccination is worth a shot (make that two).

If you are 50 or older or have a weakened immune system, schedule an appointment to begin your two-dose shingles vaccination at RiverView Health. Just two quick shots in the arm, spaced 2 to 6 months apart, can keep you from suffering from a painful rash of blisters that may take months to clear up.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most commonly, the rash occurs in a single stripe around either the left or the right side of the body. In other cases, the rash occurs on one side of the face. Shingles on the face can affect the eye and cause vision loss. In rare cases (usually in people with weakened immune systems), the rash may be more widespread on the body and look similar to a chickenpox rash.

Other symptoms of shingles can include

• Fever
• Headache
• Chills
• Upset stomach

Effective Prevention

“The only way to help prevent against getting shingles is obtaining the shingles vaccine,’’ shared RiverView Family Nurse Practitioner Riley Hermreck. “Currently, one in every three people will develop shingles in their lifetime. If you are 50 years or older, getting the two doses of the shingles vaccine not only will help prevent against shingles but is extremely effective.’’

Studies show that the shingles vaccination, Shingrix, is more than 90% effective in adults with healthy immune systems.

If you had shingles in the past, you should still be vaccinated to help prevent future disease occurrences. There is no specific length of time you need to wait after having shingles before you can receive the vaccination; however, you should ensure the shingles rash has gone away before being vaccinated.

Relationship to Chickenpox

Chickenpox and shingles are related because they are caused by the same virus (varicella-zoster virus). After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays inactive in the body. It can reactivate years later and cause shingles.

The CDC shares the following facts
• You can get the shingles vaccination whether or not you remember having had chickenpox in the past.
• More than 99% of Americans born on or before 1980 have had chickenpox, even if they do not remember having the disease.
• Adults with weakened immune systems and no documented history of chickenpox disease, chickenpox
vaccination, or shingles should talk to their primary care provider for further guidance.
• If you previously received the shingles vaccine called Zostavax, you should now get the Shingrix vaccine. As of November 2020, the Zostavax vaccine is no longer available in the US.

Talk to your primary care provider about the benefits of being vaccinated against shingles, or call 281-9595 to schedule your vaccination.