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Shingles vaccine is available for seniors

By Cynthia Trowbridge     Oct 9, 2007 in Health
Shingles is the name that is used for a condition that is called "herpes zoster" It causes a very painful rash that can affect different parts of the body. The risk of getting shingles is normally people over 50. The risk increases with age.
Shingles is a very painful skin rash. It will normally start out with pain before the rash breaks out. It will than turn into blisters. The blisters will usually crust over and fall off in 7 to 10 days.
The rash normally goes away in a few weeks but the pain can last from 1 to 3 months and sometimes it can last for years.
The same virus that causes chickenpox is what causes shingles. Once a person has had chickenpox the virus remains in your nerve tissues.
Over a million people in the United States get shingles every year.
Normally people only get shingles one time. But there are a few people who can get it again.
Some of the things that can cause the dormant virus to flare up are
physical or emotional stress, an immune deficiency or cancer.
Shingles can affect any area of the body. If it affects the head or face it can have some dangerous complications. If it affects the nerves in the brain it can lead to inflammation, loss of feeling in one or both eyes and threaten your eyesight. It can also cause ear pain and and a loss of facial nerves. It can cause hearing loss, dizziness, and a ringing in the ears.
An inflammation could also cause a blockage of blood vessels which could lead to a stroke.
If the rash spreads over a large part of the body it can affect the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, joints, and intestinal tract.
There has been a vaccine out for shingles for over a year now.
"If you're old enough, it's the best strategy to prevent the illness," said Dr. Robert Penn, chief of infectious disease in the department of medicine at LSU Health Sciences Center.
The vaccine was approved by the FDA in May 2006. it is manufactured by Merck and is called Zostavax. It was recommended for people 60 and older by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in October of 2006.
Many seniors do not know that the vaccine is available and that it is covered by the Medicare Part D drug plan and many private insurances.
Studies show the vaccine reduces the risk of getting shingles by 50 percent. If you do get shingles after having the vaccine the risk of a more serious case is reduced by two-thirds.
Studies on the vaccine show it reduces the risk of getting shingles by 50 percent and it reduces the risk of getting a more serious case by two-thirds.
More about Shingles, Vaccine, Elderly