What have you heard lately about shingles? No, not the one’s on your roof!
There is a lot of news lately out there about shingles and the available vaccine.
Why do people get shingles?
When we get chicken pox, usually as children, we have symptoms of rash, blisters, and fever for around two weeks and then if there are no complications we recover.
It was one of the “childhood” diseases, along with mumps and measles that most children used to have to suffer through. It was almost a rite of passage, on the way to becoming an adult. Some children were actually deliberately exposed to it as getting it in childhood was much milder than suffering through it in adolescence or adulthood.
In 1995, a vaccination against chicken pox became available in the United States and it was very effective.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prior to the vaccine only 10 percent of children did not get chicken pox. Seen another way, that’s 90 percent of children who got chicken pox.
Why are we concerned about chicken pox now?
The chicken pox virus goes dormant or goes to sleep, and lives in the nerve endings.
In later life, usually after the age of sixty, it can awaken and emerge as a painful, uncomfortable disease called “SHINGLES.” It is the same virus, now awakened from its long sleep. Only now it affects an older, more vulnerable population.
If you’ve had chicken pox, the shingles virus lives in you.
For those of us born before 1995, one in three people will develop shingles sometime in their lifetime. The baby boom generations are a big demographic that will suffer through this malady. And, if you got chicken pox before your first birthday, there is a fifty percent increase in the chance you will develop shingles later in life.
In 2006, the FDA approved a vaccine that is effective in reducing the risk of developing shingles.
The CDC has approved this vaccine for individuals of 50 years and older. The vaccine is effective for 6 years. then re-vaccination is required. Once you receive the vaccine, there is a 51% chance that you will not end up with shingles.
We strongly recommend getting the shingles vaccine.
Talk with your doctor and/or pharmacist about getting the vaccine for you and the ones you love to lower your chances of experiencing the pain of shingles.
Helen Trowsdale, President of AA Care Services, is a nurse administrator with over 30 years of experience as a BSN, psychiatric nurse, and geriatric care manager with adults as well as pediatrics in hospitals, private duty home health care agencies, and residential home health care. Her team of caregivers are dedicated to serving their clients with home care in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Austin; providing clients with consistent, quality care while minimizing the number of caregivers in the home. Learn more about AA Care Services.