Shingles Vaccine – What You Need to Know

August is Immunization Awareness Month! This week on Health Happens, our weekly Facebook Live show, we talked about the shingles vaccine with Dr. Peter Rice, a professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy.

Shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body. The rash consists of blisters, that typically scab over in seven to ten days and clear up within two to four weeks. About one out of every three people in the United States will develop shingles, in their lifetime. An estimated 1 million people get shingles each year in this country.

Contrary to popular belief, if you’ve ever had chickenpox, you can still get shingles. Children can get shingles, but your risk of shingles increases as you get older. Dr. Rice mentions that the shingles rash can result in pain, which can last up to six weeks after the shingles go away. 

What Can You Do?

If you are a healthy adult, over 50 years old, you should consider getting the Shingrix vaccine, the newest and most effective vaccine for shingles. It is a two dose vaccine that you get about six months apart. Moreover, if you have had shingles, and received the older vaccine, Zostavax, or if you are not sure if you had chickenpox, you should consider getting the Shingrix vaccine.

There is no maximum age for getting the Shingrix vaccine. It is over 90% effective and even more effective in older populations. If you had shingles in the past, you can get Shingrix to help prevent future occurrences of the disease.

Fortunately, there is no need to wait after having shingles before you can receive Shingrix. Generally, you should make sure the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated. There is a shortage however of the vaccine. Dr. Rice recommends calling your pharmacist or primary care provider to check availability before going in to get the vaccine.

In addition, Dr. Rice says while there is a lot of debate about vaccines, you will not get shingles by receiving the vaccine, “If you get the Shingrix vaccine, you will not get shingles. The vaccine contains a discrete part of the herpes zoster virus, it does not contain the live virus.”

August is Immunization Awareness Month and you can receive a free flu shot at the 9Health Fair this fall. Check out our Find a Fair page to find a location near you. Together, 9Health Fair and Safeway/Albertsons is making it easy and affordable for you and your loved ones to get a flu shot.

Click here to watch the full Health Happens episode.

This post was written by 9Health Fair intern Kylie Fogo.

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