Shingles is referred to a painful skin rash which often occurs with blisters. Other names for it are Herpes Zoster or just Zoster. A shingle rash is often confined to one side of your face or body and may last from two to four weeks.
Shingles is characterised by pain which can get severe. Fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach make other symptoms for it. It is very rare that a shingles infection results into pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation or death.
The virus that causes chickenpox is responsible for causing shingles too. Only a person, who has had chicken pox, or rarely its vaccine, may get shingles because the virus stays in the body and can cause shingles later in life.
Shingles is far more common in people above the age of 50 than younger people. It often attacks people with a compromised immune system because of diseases such as cancer, or drugs such as steroids or chemotherapy.
The vaccine licensed for shingles in 2006 has been observed through clinical trials to have reduced the risk of shingles by 50%. It can also lessen the pain in people who still get shingles after getting vaccinated. A single shot of shingles vaccine is recommended for adults aged 60 and above.
There are some cases where a person shouldn’t get vaccinated for shingles. Such a person is:
1. Who has ever suffered a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatine, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of shingles vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
2. Has a weak immune system due to current:
- AIDS or another immune system-affecting disease.
- Treatment course with drugs that hamper the immune system, such as prolonged use of high-dose steroids.
- Treatment for cancer such as radiation or chemotherapy.
- Cancer that affects the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukaemia or lymphoma.
3. Is or might be pregnant. Women should wait for at least for weeks to conceive after getting shingles vaccine.
4. If you have a minor acute illness, such as a cold, you may be vaccinated. But people with a moderate or severe acute illness should ideally wait until they recover before getting the vaccine. This includes anyone with a temperature of 101.3° F or higher.
Like any other medicine, a vaccine for shingles could cause problems in some cases. It could lead to some allergic reactions and no other serious problems have been identified. The risk of a vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.
Mild problems of a shingles vaccine are redness, soreness, swelling, or itching at the site of the injection. About 1 in 70 people can experience a headache. Like all vaccines, shingles vaccine is being closely monitored for unusual or severe problems.
If you’ve got a shingles vaccine, look for signs of allergic reaction, very high fever, or behavioural changes that might concern you. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
In case you notice symptoms of severe allergic reaction or other emergency that can’t wait, get immediate medical attention. Afterwards, you or your doctor could report the reaction to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
At least one million people in the United States get shingles every year. If you stand at a risk of getting it, consult your doctor about getting a vaccine.
Read more articles on Understanding Shingles Herpes Zoster.
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