After missing out on basically the past 14 months of life thanks to COVID, we’re all pretty darn eager to get the vaccines that are finally rolling out in large numbers. That will be the ultimate relief when we can go to a restaurant, bar, or just the grocery store without donning a mask.
But if you’re 50 or over, there’s another vaccine you need to find — the shingles vaccine called by the brand name Shingrix.
Dr. Musick can provide the two doses you need to ward off the extreme pain of shingles.
What is shingles?
The same virus that is behind chicken pox, the varicella zoster virus, is the culprit behind shingles. Shingles will show itself as a painful rash on the skin, usually as a single strip of rash on the face or the body. You have to have had chicken pox to later develop shingles. The virus resides in nerve tissue near the person’s brain and spinal cord but is dormant after the chicken pox outbreak. Then, particularly after the age of 50, it can rear its ugly head as shingles.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
Shingles doesn’t usually become its painful self initially. First, the person may begin to get headaches and become somewhat sensitive to light. Flu-like symptoms, without fever, come next.
Then the fun starts. The next stage will result in shooting or burning pain on one side of the body or face. There may also be itching and tingling sensations. The pain varies from person to person, but it can become severe. After two weeks, rashes may appear on the face or body, becoming clusters of blisters in a few days. These rashes will usually heal in two to four weeks, but the pain can linger for weeks, months, even a couple years.
Stress, illness, and certain medications that compromise the immune system can trigger a shingles outbreak. Once a person has a shingles outbreak, it usually won’t happen again.
How is shingles treated?
The best treatment for shingles is to go on offense before you ever get an outbreak with a relatively new vaccine called Shingrix. It’s intended for people over age 50 and had chicken pox as children. Previous shingles vaccines have been less than impressive in their results, with somewhere around 50% success rates. Shingrix has proven to be 97% effective in preventing shingles in adults aged 50 to 69 who got two doses. In adults over 70, it was 91% effective. Your insurance company may balk at getting it at age 50, but by 60 there should be no questions.
The problem with Shingrix has been supply. The manufacturer had been having trouble supplying enough of the vaccine to keep up with demand. But the avoidance of the doctor’s office during the COVID months has built up supply of this “other” vaccine.
If you’re over 50, check with your insurance company as to their coverage. Then call Dr. Musick at (618) 628-2588 and schedule your Shingrix injection.