Newer vaccine available for shingles

Florence, Wis. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last October approved a new vaccine to prevent herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles, in adults age 50 and older.

The new vaccine, called Shingrix, is two doses given in the upper arm two to six months apart. Shingrix has a very high rate of effectiveness at 97 percent.

Even people who have had shingles or previously got the Zostavax — a one-shot vaccine — are being recommended to receive Shingrix due to its high rate of effectiveness against shingles and the complications caused by the disease, according to the Florence County Health Department.

Shingrix can be administered by a personal physician, the health department or pharmacy. Those interested can call to see where the nearest location is to receive the vaccine.

It should be considered whether or not the person remembers having chickenpox in the past. Studies have shown more than 99 percent of Americans 40 years and older have had chickenpox, even if they don’t recall having the disease.

Chickenpox and shingles are related because they are caused by the same varicella zoster virus. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body. It can reactivate years later and cause shingles.

Most children now receive the chickenpox vaccine as school vaccinations.

The side effects of Shingrix are temporary, and usually only last two to three days. The pain will be less severe than having shingles or risking other complications from the disease.

For more information, contact a medical provider or go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines or the Florence County Health Department webpage at http://www.florencecountywi.com/.

The health department is open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., closing at noon for a 30-minute lunch, Monday through Friday on the second floor of the Florence County Courthouse, 501 Lake Ave., Florence, Wis. Need health insurance? Go to access.wi.gov to see if you qualify for benefits.

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