After 22 years in business, we have had a lot of patients walk in and out of our doors. Our goal remains to help the people in our community be healthy and stay healthy. In that time, there is a recurring theme of regret with the same category of patients… those with shingles.
Shingles is a very painful rash that can affect anyone who has had chickenpox. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, which stays dormant in your body and can reactivate later in life, especially during times of stress. Not only is shingles very painful, it can cause severe complications, such as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is a chronic nerve pain that can last for months or even years after the rash heals.
So, when we see patients who are suffering from shingles, or the lasting effects of shingles, we know that we can provide some relief with a custom pain cream made in our compounding lab. However, we also know that the best treatment, or rather prevention, would have been a shingles vaccination. The question we always get from shingles patients is, “How soon after having shingles can I get the vaccination?” The pain always makes them regret not getting the shingles vaccination earlier.
The vaccination is called Shingrix (recombinant zoster vaccine) and it is recommended for adults 50 years and older, as well as adults 19 years and older who have or will have weakened immune systems due to disease or therapy. Shingrix is given as two doses, separated by two to six months, in the upper arm.
Shingrix is VERY effective. In adults 50 years and older who have healthy immune systems, Shingrix is more than 90% effective at prevent-ing shingles and PHN. Immunity stays strong for at least the first sev-en years after vaccination. In adults with weakened immune systems, studies show that Shingrix is 68-91% effective in preventing shingles, de-pending on the condition that affects the immune system.
Shingrix is also safe and well-tolerated. The most common side effects are pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, as well as muscle pain, headache, fever, chills, and fatigue. These side effects are usually mild and last for a few days. Shingrix does not contain live virus, so it cannot cause shingles or spread the virus to others.
You should get the Shingrix vaccination even if you have had shingles or received another shingles vaccine called Zostavax in the past. Studies have shown that Shingrix is safe and more effective than Zostavax. Zostavax has not been available in the United States since November of 2020 since the more effective Shingrix vaccine came out.
Shingles, like chickenpox, is an exceptionally infectious illness. Persons who are not immune, such as those who have never been vaccinated or who have never had chickenpox, are at risk of contracting the disease via an infected person's open sores as well as from inhalation of aerosols in an airborne fashion. For this reason, people who never had chickenpox should discuss with their healthcare provider whether getting the Shingrix vaccine is right for them.
Shingrix is available on a walk-in basis at Norland Avenue Pharmacy Monday through Friday from 9am to 6pm and Saturdays 8:30am to 12:30pm, no appointment necessary. If you have questions about Shingrix or any other vaccinations, give us a call: 717-217-6790. Shingrix is covered by most insurance plans and Medicare Part D.
Shingrix is the only way to protect yourself from shingles and its complications. Don't wait and regret it, get vaccinated today!