Medical Assistant

What you should know about the Shingles Vaccine


In 2006, the FDA approved the shingles vaccine for people 60 and over. In 2011, after reviewing new data on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in the 50-59 age group, the FDA amended its approval to include people 50 to 59.

The CDC, which establishes official public health guidelines, has concluded that vaccinating after 60 prevents most cases of shingles. CDC concluded that waiting until age 60, would prevent more cases an complications, including a condition called postherpetic neuralgia, which causes chronic and often intense burning pain from nerves damaged by the virus. Medicare and most insurance plans follow the  CDC’s recommendations.

Each year about 1 million Americans get shingles, and most of them are over 50. Most carry the varicella zoster virus, which causes chicken pox and herpes zoster or shingles. Immune systems keep it in check until aging occurs and the immune systems weaken known as immune senescence and the virus can break out causing shingles.

The single best reason to get the shot at 50 is to protect yourself when the risk of shingles and its complications first begins to climb. The vaccine works by stimulating the immune system which increases its strength and offers more protection. Typically when given at the earlier age, the vaccine is more effective. In people who were 60 too 69 other research showed the vaccine was about 51 percent effective. Another issue is researches don’t yet know exactly how long protection from the vaccine lasts. The current suggestion is 8 years. There is currently no evidence that a booster will  work.

Signs of shingles include:

Pain, burning, numbness or tingling, usually in one location on one side of the body.

A red rash that leads to clusters of tiny, fluid-filled blisters typically around one side of the torso, but can also occur around one eye or on one side of thee face and neck.

Less commonly, headache, fever and sensitivity to light.

Novmber 2015

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