Prevention of Shingles
Grinnell Regional Public Health now offers a vaccination for the shingles virus. Shingles is the older adult version of the chickenpox virus but is much more challenging. To prevent this painful virus, the vaccination, Zostravax, is available that reduces the risk of shingles by 50 percent and reduces the pain associated with shingles for those who do become infected.
Shingles is a painful skin rash, often with blisters. This same virus causes chickenpox, called herpes zoster. Only people who have had the chickenpox can get shingles; although a few cases have appeared in people who received the chickenpox vaccination. One in every three people in the United States will develop shingles. However, you can change that statistic projection with a vaccination.
Shingles usually appears on one side of the face or body and lasts two to four weeks. Its main symptom is pain, which can be severe. Other symptoms can include fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach. With rare infections, the shingles can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis), and death.
The vaccination is recommended for adults 50 years or older. Some individuals should not receive the vaccine if they have a weakened immune system, pregnant, or have experienced a life-threatening reaction to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin. Contact your primary care provider for information on if it’s right for you.
The vaccination is a medicine that can cause allergic reactions. However, the risk of a vaccine causing serious harm is extremely small. Individuals need to weigh the risk of experiencing the disease against the risk of vaccination when they decide whether to be vaccinated.
Typical reactions to the vaccine include redness, soreness, swelling or itching at the injection site. Occasionally, someone will experience headaches.
Grinnell Regional Public Health offers the shingles vaccination. Call 641-236-2385 to schedule an appointment.