Measles; Rubella; Tetanus; Vaccinations; Whooping cough
Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus responsible for chickenpox. Once a person has chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in the body. It can emerge years later as shingles.
Shingles causes a painful, red, and sometimes blistery rash to form on the body or face. The disease can cause intense pain, called post herpetic neuralgia. Other symptoms include fever, headache, and chills. In rare cases, complications, such as pneumonia, blindness, and brain inflammation (encephalitis), can occur. Shingles is most common in adults over age 50.
In May 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration licensed the herpes zoster vaccine (Zostavax) for the prevention of shingles. The vaccine can reportedly cut the incidence of shingles in half for adults over age 60, but its effectiveness declines with increasing age.
Recommendations for the Vaccine in Adults. All adults age 60 or older should get a single dose of the herpes zoster vaccine, regardless of whether they have previously had shingles.
The following people should not receive the herpes zoster vaccine:
Redness, pain, and swelling. About a third of the people who get the vaccine have mild redness, soreness, swelling, or itching at the injection site.
Headache. About 1 in 70 people experience headache after receiving the vaccine.
There have been no serious side effects reported with the shingles vaccine.
Research has found that the herpes zoster vaccine reduces the incidence of shingles by about 50%. The benefit is as high as 64% in people ages 60 - 69, but declines to 18% in the group of adults older than 80 years. In people who are vaccinated but still develop shingles, the vaccine reduces the duration of the pain involved with the disease.
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