With the large amount of press surrounding the COVID-19 vaccinations, it is all too easy to lose focus on the other vital vaccinations for aging parents. But there’s one specifically that is worthy of some time in the public eye: the vaccine for shingles.
What Is Shingles?
Shingles is an infection brought on by the same virus that triggers chickenpox. If a person has ever had chickenpox, they are at risk for developing shingles later on. This is because the virus remains dormant in nerve tissue close to the brain and spinal cord for a long time before possibly reactivating.
While not life-threatening, shingles can be very painful and trigger numerous other troublesome effects, including:
- A red, blistering rash (commonly wrapping around one side of the torso)
- Sensitivity, itching, burning, numbness, or tingling
- Sensitivity to light
- And more
Additionally, long-lasting effects range from skin infections, eye infections (that can result in vision loss), to balance or hearing trouble, facial paralysis, encephalitis, and more.
Who Is at an Increased Risk for Shingles?
There are a lot of risk factors, most commonly age. Shingles is most common in people 50 and over, with the risk increasing throughout aging. Additionally, people who meet the conditions below are at a heightened risk for shingles:
- Having a compromised immune system caused by a disease like cancer, HIV/AIDS, or any other condition
- Going through treatment that impacts the immune system, including chemo or radiation
- Taking steroids or medicines that protect against a transplanted organ from being rejected
Is Shingles Avoidable?
Fortunately, an effective vaccine for shingles is accessible and encouraged for people age 50 and older, and anyone age 19 and older with a compromised immune system. The CDC recommends the Shingrix vaccine, a 2-dose injection that is higher than 90% effective in seniors.
Side effects from Shingrix are minimal – significantly more bearable compared to the effects of shingles itself. The most common symptoms include mild or moderate pain in the arm, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Some other reported effects include nausea, fatigue, muscle pain, shivering, stomach pain, or fever. These issues usually subside within 2-3 days, and can be eased with over-the-counter remedies or as directed by the doctor.
What Can I Do if I Currently Have Shingles?
The physician should always be conferred with if you suspect that you or someone you love has shingles, but in particular if any of the following apply:
- The rash is anywhere around the eyes
- The rash is painful and widespread
- You (or your loved one) are 60 or older
- You (or your loved one) have a compromised immune system
How Home Care Can Help
Inspired Home Care, a provider of home care and recovery care in Lake Zurich, IL and the nearby areas, is available to provide support to individuals with shingles or those thinking about steering clear of the condition through:
- Transportation and accompaniment to doctors’ appointments and to receive the vaccine
- Monitoring for changes in condition so they can be reported and addressed immediately
- Running errands, including picking up groceries and prescriptions
- Cooking healthy and balanced meals and ensuring necessary hydration
- And even more