HEALTHWATCH: Vaccines for Shingles

Updated: Thursday, July 24 2014, 10:09 AM CDT
HEALTHWATCH:  Vaccines for Shingles story image
Vaccines aren't just for babies and young children heading into kindergarten.
A local doctor discusses the immunization shot she tells all her patients fifty or older to get the moment they are eligible

Family Medicine Specialist Doctor Kelli Gahagan says  locally and nationally  the rates for Shingles are climbing.

"Shingles is a reactivation of the chicken pox virus.  Usually we all have chicken pox as a child.  It's a reactivation of the virus and it causes a painful rash."

Gahagan says the rash turns to blisters and causes itching, burning and shooting pain. 
She advises all of her patients to get the vaccine as soon as they can.
"That's recommended at age 60 and above, but it is approved down to age fifty."

She's treated patients in their twenties for Shingles, but says the FDA has not cleared the vaccine for younger age groups.

Gahagan says the vaccine requires a doctor's prescription and  is somewhere between 50 and 70 percent effective. If a patient does develop Shingles, the vaccine lowers their chances for complications from the virus.

"Believe it's about two hundred dollars, if you just go to the pharmacy if insurance doesn't cover it,  however, insurance usually does cover it after age sixty."

Gahagan says stress, illness or a loss of antibodies over time are all possible reasons for a Shingles outbreak.  Patients who are around babies or children who haven't had their chicken pox vaccine must be immunized.

"But someone who is not immunized and does not have have the antibodies would be contagious, they can get chicken pox from your shingles rash."

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HEALTHWATCH: Vaccines for Shingles

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