What is shingles?
Herpes zoster (shingles) is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, which remains in your body but may stay inactive for years. Risk for shingles increases as we get older, but there is no way to tell when the virus will become active again.
Shingles can cause severe blisters/rashes (on the torso, limbs, or face), pain and burning. Rashes can last for weeks and can result in other complications such as bacterial skin infection, scarring, loss of hearing or vision, muscle paralysis, and long-term nerve pain. For most, the pain may lessen as the rash heals. But for about 1 in 5 people with shingles, long-term nerve pain can go on for months — even years. This is known as post-herpetic neuralgia.
Who is vulnerable?
- If you had chickenpox, the shingles virus is already inside you.
- The risk increases after the age of 50.
- About 1 in 3 people will experience shingles in their lifetime.
- By age 85, 1 in 2 will have had shingles.
- Aging, illness, stress, and skin irritation may all trigger an episode of shingles.
Why get the vaccine?
Shingrix provides 97% protection in the 50 – 69 age group and 91% protection in the over 70 age group. Shingrix retained this high protection through-out a four year study period and is thought to offer long-term protection against shingles.
Shingrix is a killed vaccine and is safe for immunocompromised individuals. Shingrix may be given 8 weeks after Zostavax although most experts recommend waiting 5 years after Zostavax.
The American Committee on Immunization practices has recommended that Shingrix be administered to people starting at age 50, 10 years earlier than their advice for Zostavax. The committee also said that Shingrix is the preferred vaccine and that people who have already received Zostavax should get Shingrix as well.
Where to get the vaccine and how much does it cost?
Shingrix is now available at the Travel Clinic. Shingrix will be given as 2 doses 2-6 months apart at a cost of $150 per dose. There will be no administration fee, dispensing fee or injection fee on top of this cost. Many extended health plans will pay for this vaccine.
Contact us at 604-736-9244 (before 5pm daily) if you are interested or have questions about the shingles vaccine.
If you are travelling, call us to book your appointment. We are fully staffed to get your assessment, prescriptions, and vaccinations covered all in one visit.