Over the past few years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a shingles vaccine that is over 90% effective. The condition, formally herpes zoster and informally known as shingles, causes a painful, blistering rash. The disease attacks nerves and can take weeks to clear up, causing numbness and tingling, shooting pains, itching, and fever and chills all the while.
Who Is At Risk?
Shingles is most common among aging Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the newest vaccine for U.S. men and women ages 50 and up. However, the disease is not limited to this population. Anyone who has had the chickenpox can contract shingles, even children. However, getting the disease at a young age is extremely rare.
That’s why the CDC recommends the new vaccine for anyone over the age of 50. One-third of Americans will succumb to the disease in their lifetime, and the risk of contracting shingles goes up as you age. Deaths from shingles are rare and preventable. There are less than 100 deaths per year, and these are also more common among the senior population. The condition is painful, can cause severe nerve pain, and can cause lasting complications. In rare cases, it can be deadly. Get the vaccine to be safe! Every year, vaccine prevent an average of 2.5 million deaths.
How Effective Is The Shingles Vaccine?
Very. There are currently two shingles vaccines out there, Shingrix and Zostavax. Shingrix is the newest form of the vaccine, requires two doses spaced six months apart, and boasts effectiveness rates of up to 97%! It is just as effective in middle-aged Americans as it is in seniors 70-80 years old. It lasts longer than its earlier counterpart, too! In fact, Shingrix remains up to 85% effective even after four years or more have passed.
If Shingrix is unavailable in your local area, the CDC and doctors still recommend Zostavax. Zostavax reduces shingles infections by 51% and last nerve damage and pain resulting from shingles, or postherpetic neuralgia (PH), by 67%.
Finally, both vaccines still effectively prevent shingles in Americans who have already had it. It’s unlikely to get it twice, but it is possible. The chances of contracting singles twice remain relatively low at about 1 in 20, or 5%. Those with a history of shingles know how painful and long-lasting it can be, giving them extra motivation to prevent it the second-time around.
What Protocols Are In Place To Keep It Safe?
Unfortunately, there is some misinformation out there, and this is a question that continues to come up. Namely, is it safe? What are pharmacists and doctors doing to ensure the safety of popular vaccinations, like shingles vaccinations, measles vaccinations, and flu vaccinations?
Rest assured there are several measures in place. That is where equipment like biomedical refrigerators, lab refrigerators, vaccine refrigerators, and combination medical fridge freezers come in. Most vaccines require chilling or freezing in medical fridge freezers or biochemical units. Shingrix, for example, requires refrigeration and must be used in no longer than six hours. It cannot be frozen. Using a combination medical fridge freezer is perfectly acceptable, as long as pharmacists keep products clearly labeled, divided, and stowed in their proper places. The CDC provides guidelines for best use practices as well. These guidelines include dosing amounts, dosing schedules, the optimal candidates for the herpes zoster vaccinations, and use in patients who have previously had the disease. The CDC safety guide provides information about safely administering shingles vaccinations at the same time as others, such as the flu vaccination, as well.
On a less clinical note, the only likely side effect of the vaccination is soreness in the arm that dissipates after two to three days. Nausea, redness, and fever are less common side effects that also clear up in less than a week.
Don’t needlessly suffer from an unsightly rash, weeks of pain, and possible complications of the herpes zoster disease. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the vaccination starting at 50, rest assured that it’s very, very effective, and that, thanks to CDC guidelines and medical fridge freezers, it is very safe as well.