ZOSTAVAX – The Shingles Vaccine

Jayne Beare, Practice Nurse
“Did you know that Shingles (also called herpes zoster) is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox? The virus stays inactive in the body for life and can reactivate years or even decades later, causing shingles. Because shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for shingles. Symptoms include a painful rash which can last for a lifetime, pain on one side and flu like symptoms. Older people are one of the groups most in danger of developing Shingles.
Zostavax is a vaccine recommended for those over 50. However, since November 1st the government is now providing Zostavax free of charge for those aged 70 – 79, who are most at risk for developing Shingles. While the vaccine won’t necessarily prevent you from getting Shingles, it will reduce or completely stop the associated pain (called neuropathic pain). There have been very few reported side effects to Zostavax, the main one being some temporary pain and redness to the arm where you received the vaccine.
To be eligible for the government funded shingles vaccine you need to be aged between 70 and 79, not be on any immunosuppressing medications or be immunocompromised, and not have had shingles in the last 12 months. Speak with one of the doctors or nurses for more information at you next consultation.”

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