Shingles Vaccine

The best way to prevent getting shingles is getting vaccinated against it.

About 1 in 3 people in the United States will get shingles at some point in their life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most cases of shingles will clear up within two to three weeks but can be very painful. There is a vaccine to dodge the bullet.

The shingles virus, which brings painful rash, burning and aches is the same virus that causes chickenpox.

The CDC recommends getting the shingles vaccine at 50 years or older, even if you don’t think you’ve had the chickenpox, as age is a factor in waning immunity.

Dr. Christopher Wenger, Assistant Medical Director at Black Hills Urgent Care, says, “Shingles is a reactivation of chickenpox that 90% of people got when they were kids, so it lies dormant in your spinal cord and then it kind of reactivates. The thought processes is, as you just get older, your immune system kind of falls; it’s not working as well, so it can reactivate with age.”

Some areas in the U.S. are running out of the shingles vaccination, but locally, there seems to be no threat, yet. Dr. Wenger says the previous shingles vaccine was not as effective as the newer vaccine that came out in 2017. He suggests talking to your health care provider about getting the updated vaccine and recommends getting vaccinated as the preventative benefits outweigh the side effects.

Wenger says, “There’s a lot of bodies that support the evidence behind it …compared to the other [vaccine] it seems exponentially better and so I would certainly get it done somewhere around age 50.”

In addition, Wenger says adult immunization rates are low in general and recommends keeping them current.

“They are important because a lot of times they prevent serious complications, like with flu or getting ammonia down the road, shingles – rash which can be quite severe and some cases and debilitating. Overall, it’s very important you talk to your doctor or pharmacist about adult vaccinations and try to stay up-to-date,” Wenger adds.

For a full list of adult vaccinations recommend by the CDC, click here.

For more Wellness Wednesday stories like this one, click here.

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