Tags: shingles | vaccine | chickenpox

Should I Get Shingles Vaccine?

By    |   Tuesday, 03 February 2015 04:56 PM

Question: Are there any risks associated with the shingles vaccine? I’m 62 and am thinking about getting it, but worry about side effects. 

Dr. Hibberd’s answer: 
The current shingles vaccine has been approved in the U.S. since prior to May 2006. It is a “live attenuated” vaccine that contains a reduced potency chicken pox virus that has been altered to reduce its infectivity (that is what attenuated means).

Shingles vaccine can potentially transmit virus from the person vaccinated to susceptible close contacts who are not immune to the chickenpox virus. As far as vaccines go, it has been a very well tolerated vaccine, and side effects are very uncommon in my experience.

The side effect cautions are identical to chickenpox vaccines given to children, even though the shingles vaccine contains far less CFU (colony forming units) The www.cdc.gov/vaccine website contains more detailed information under its product insert heading.

The shingles vaccine is not to be given to anyone allergic to its components — including gelatin and neomycin. It is not to be given to anyone who is immune compromised or immune deficient, and is not designed for use during pregnancy. New moms are advised to wait at least three months after childbirth before getting the shot, as it is not known if this vaccine may cause fetal harm if given during pregnancy.

It is also advised that vaccination be deferred during an acute illness with fever or in patients with active TB. A reduced response to the vaccination is possible when given with a Pneumovax vaccine, so a four-week delay is advised in those recently vaccinated by with the pneumonia vaccine.

As with all vaccines, minor side effects are possible. The most common nuisance report is discomfort at the vaccine site, and occasional reports of transient headache.

The shingles vaccine is really just an extremely diluted version of the chickenpox vaccine given to children, but designed to boost  immunity to this same virus to reduce frequency of virus re-activation for those who are 60  years of age and older.

People over the age of 60 can suffer a re-emergence of the chickenpox virus as a very painful skin eruption called shingles. Shingles actually is a re-awakening of the dormant chickenpox virus that had been kept in check by our immune system either by childhood chickenpox disease exposure or by childhood vaccination. The shingles vaccine is recommended to prevent both initial shingles and to prevent a re-occurrence.

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The current shingles vaccine has been approved in the U.S. and is recommended for people over 60.
shingles, vaccine, chickenpox
Tuesday, 03 February 2015 04:56 PM
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