June 21, 2018

Have you heard about the new vaccine that will protect you better against shingles? In October 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Shingrix, the second-ever vaccine to protect against the shingles virus.

Shingrix Keeps You Safe Against Shingles

There are two ways to get immunity against shingles — either getting the virus or receiving the vaccine. Getting the virus is painful and takes several days to run its course.

The same virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles — varicella zoster. Shingles is a painful rash that often wraps around one side of the body as a single strip of blisters. It’s not life-threatening but can be very painful.

Shingles can also lead to a complication known as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). During the active part of the viral infection, the virus attacks the nerve fibers in your skin, causing mixed messages to be sent to your brain. These mixed messages can cause you to feel pain even after the blisters are gone.

CDC Recommends Shingrix

Your risk of getting shingles and postherpetic neuralgia increases as you age. Healthy adults 50 years and older should receive two doses of Shingrix. The vaccines should be given two to six months apart to protect you from shingles and PHN. You should get the Shingrix vaccine even if you received the Zostavax vaccine in the past, had shingles, or are not sure if you had chickenpox.

Shingrix Protects Better Than Zostavax

Zostavax was the first ever shingles vaccine. After it came out in 2006, researchers discovered that Zostavax doesn’t protect as well against shingles as they hoped. Zostavax decreases the risk of developing shingles by 51 percent and PHN by 67 percent.

Once you receive both vaccines of Shingrix, you are protected better than with Zostavax. In adults 50-69 years of age who received both doses, Shingrix was 97 percent effective in preventing shingles and 91 percent effective in preventing PHN. In adults over age 70, Shingrix was 91 percent effective in preventing shingles and 89 percent effective against PHN.

Is Shingrix Safe?

Every vaccine has possible side effects. Because Shingrix helps your body defend against the shingles, you may notice a few side effects for 2-3 days after you get the vaccine. Common side effects are:

  • Arm soreness at the vaccine shot location
  • Redness or swelling in the arm of the vaccine shot
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Shivering
  • Fever
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea

Reasons some people should not get the Shingrix vaccine is if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • You currently have shingles.
  • You have had a severe allergic reaction to Shingrix or any ingredients of the vaccine.
  • You tested negative for immunity to the varicella-zoster virus, which means you should get the chickenpox vaccine.

Are you ready to talk to your doctor to see if the Shingrix vaccine is right for you? Call your primary care physician to book an appointment today.

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