Shingles or Herpes Zoster is a painful, blistering rash that can occur at any time. It is an infection that is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. If you have had chicken pox in the past, even as a young child, the virus that causes Shingles is already in your body and you are at risk for a Shingles outbreak. It is estimated that one in three adults will develop Shingles and its associated painful, blistery rash in their lifetimes, often repeatedly. Treatment for a Shingles outbreak is antiviral medications and pain relief from the blistery rash. In some cases, antibiotic medications and creams are needed to treat bacterial infections that occur from the open rashes and blisters. Post herpetic neuralgia is a long-term, painful complication from a Shingles outbreak, even after the blistery rash is gone. There are other, more serious complications to your health associated with Shingles outbreaks, some of them life threatening.
The risk of Shingles outbreaks increase as we age, plus the addition of other chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity increase the risk of Shingles outbreaks and the potential for extended courses of infection and long-term complications. This leaves the potential for increased visits to a health care provider, greater risks of infections and often expensive medications.
However, there is now a new, better option in preventing Shingles. Shingrix is a two injection vaccine series that has been shown to be superior to the current vaccine. Clinical trials have shown that Shingrix is greater than 90% effective in preventing Shingles, compared to 30-50% previously. The two injections are given between two and six months apart. This new option will help prevent Shingles and the associated painful rash and post herpetic neuralgia. The support of Shingrix is so great, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that everyone over the age of 50 receive the vaccine series. It is even recommended that Shingrix be given to those who have received the older vaccination of Zostavax in the past. People who have had a previous Shingles outbreak can still receive the Shingrix vaccination series. It is recommended that a period of six to twelve months is needed from a Shingles outbreak before receiving the Shingrix series.
The overwhelming support of the Shingrix vaccine and its efficacy is exciting news in the prevention of pain and discomfort associated with Shingles. It has been reported that the entire series should be covered by private insurance as well as Medicare and Medicaid. Coordination between your health care provider, insurance carriers and pharmacies will determine the insurance coverage of Shingrix.
Talk to your health care provider to see if receiving the Shingrix vaccination series is right for you.