A new way to prevent shingles

To the Editor,

Everyone has heard about shingles, but now there is new important information about the prevention of this disease. According to the CDC, about one in three people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime.

Shingles is caused by herpes zoster and is a mutated virus of the chicken pox virus (varicella zoster). Most cases of shingles are seen in patients aged 60 to 90 years. Signs and symptoms include a very painful/sensitive rash (usually wraps around the back to the front of body), fluid filled blisters that break open and crust over, itching, sensitivity to touch, pain/numbness/burning, fatigue, headache, fever, and sensitivity to light.

You can prevent shingles. You may have already received or heard of Zostavax to prevent you from developing shingles. Zostavax is a live vaccination indicated for adults 50 years of age and older and reduces the risk of developing shingles by about 51-70 percent. ZOSTAVAX is one dose and is still available at most pharmacies. Until now, Zostavax has been our only vaccine choice for the prevention of shingles.

There is now a new vaccine, Shingrix, with greater efficacy than Zostavax. Shingrix is not a live vaccine, and is about 90-97 percent efficacious at preventing shingles. Shingrix is also indicated for adults 50 years of age and older for the prevention of shingles. This vaccine is a series of two shots, with the second dose given two to six months following the first dose.

The CDC recommends that everyone indicated for a shingles vaccination, regardless of their previous vaccination status, receive Shingrix; this means that even if you received Zostavax, it is still recommended you receive Shingrix. If you have already had shingles, receiving a shingles vaccination could help to prevent flare-ups of the virus.

Shingrix should be available at your local pharmacy. For Medicare Part D patients, this vaccination will be billed under your prescription benefit plan. If you want more information regarding Shingrix, feel free to contact a TriState Medical Group pharmacy.

Katie Cuervo

Pharmacy student, WVU

Tri-State Medical Group