Why Do Seniors Get Shingles?
One Out Six Seniors Will Get it !!
Almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles, also known as zoster or herpes zoster, in their lifetime. There are an estimated 1 million cases of shingles each year in this country. Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles; even children can get shingles. However the risk of shingles increases as you get older. About half of all cases occur in men and women 60 years old or older.
Some people have a greater risk of getting shingles. This includes people who
- have medical conditions that keep their immune systems from working properly, such as certain cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and
- receive immunosuppressive drugs, such as steroids and drugs that are given after organ transplantation.
People who develop shingles typically have only one episode in their lifetime. However, a person can have a second or even a third episode.
What Is Shingles?
Shingles, also known as zoster or herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox, you are at risk of getting shingles. • One out of every three people 60 years old or older will get shingles. • One out of six people older than 60 years who get shingles will have severe pain. The pain can last for months or even years. • The most common complication of shingles is severe pain where the shingles rash was. This pain can be debilitating. There is no treatment or cure from this pain. As people get older, they are more likely to develop long-term pain as a complication of shingles and the pain is likely to be more severe. • Shingles may also lead to serious complications involving the eye. Very rarely, shingles can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis), or death.
How To Protect Yourself
Adults 60 years old or older should talk to their healthcare professional about getting a one-time dose of the shingles vaccine. • The shingles vaccine can reduce your risk of shingles and the longterm pain it can cause. • Persons who have already had shingles or who have a chronic medical condition can receive the shingles vaccine. • In a clinical trial involving thousands of adults 60 years old or older, the vaccine reduced the risk of shingles by about half. Even if the shingles vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting shingles, it can still reduce the chance of having long-term pain. Talk with your healthcare professional for more information and to find out if the shingles vaccine is right for you.
Is Shingles Vaccine Safe?
The shingles vaccine is a safe way to protect your health. • Vaccines are tested and monitored. The shingles vaccine went through years of testing before being licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA continue to monitor vaccines after they are licensed. • Vaccine side effects are usually mild and temporary. In most cases, shingles vaccine causes no serious side effects. Some people experience mild reactions that last up to a few days, such as headache or redness, soreness, swelling, or itching where the shot was given. • Vaccines are safe for most people. The shingles vaccine is safe for you unless you are pregnant, have a weakened immune system, or have allergies to certain components of the vaccine. It is safe for people taking most prescription medications to get this vaccine, but ask your healthcare professional if you have any questions.
Where To Get Vaccinated
Getting vaccinated against shingles and other diseases can be easier than you think. Talk to your healthcare professional at your next visit about what vaccines are right for you. If your healthcare professional does not offer the vaccines you need, ask for a referral so you can get the vaccines elsewhere. Adults can get vaccines at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics, and health departments. To find a place to get a vaccine near you, go to http://vaccine.healthmap.org. Most private health insurance plans cover recommended vaccines. Check with your insurance provider for details and for a list of vaccine providers. Medicare Part D plans cover shingles vaccine, but there may be costs to you depending on your specific plan. If you do not have health insurance, visit www.InsuredMeds.com to learn more about health insurance options.
Don’t Wait. Vaccinate!
Talk with your healthcare professional to make sure you are up-to-date with the vaccines recommended for you.