Also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that causes a painful rash of small, fluid-filled blisters. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox.
Shingles typically occurs in people who have previously had chickenpox.
Frequently Asked Questions
Shingles is far more common in people ages 50+. At least 1 million people per year in the United States get shingles. Almost 1 in 3 adults will develop shingles in their lifetime. While most people will only get shingles once, a small percentage may get it more than once.
Yes, a previous clinical history of chickenpox infection is not a pre-requisite for receiving the shingles vaccine.
Although an individual may present without a clinical history of chickenpox, many such patients would have had a subclinical infection without being aware. Therefore, the vaccine should still be offered to individuals without a clinical history of chickenpox to ensure protection against zoster.
Why is it important to get the Shingles Vaccine
The best way to prevent shingles is to get vaccinated. The shingles vaccines are safe and effective and is widely used in the UK and US.
Symptoms of shingles typically include pain, burning, or tingling in a specific area of the body, followed by the appearance of a rash of small, red blisters. The blisters may be accompanied by fever, chills, headache, or fatigue. The rash usually appears in a band, a strip, or a small area on one side of the body or face.
Shingles can be treated with antiviral medications, which can help reduce the severity and duration of the illness. In addition, over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can be used to help manage the pain associated with shingles. It is important to see a healthcare provider as soon as possible if you think you may have shingles, as early treatment can help prevent complications.
There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing shingles, including:
Previous chickenpox infection: Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. People who have had chickenpox are at risk of developing shingles later in life.
Age: The risk of shingles increases with age. People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop shingles than younger individuals.
Weakened immune system: People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or who are taking certain medications, are more likely to develop shingles.
Stress: High levels of stress can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of shingles.
The main vaccine available to help prevent shingles.
- Two doses administered 2 to 6 months apart
- Can be used to protect against post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), the long-lasting nerve pain that follows shingles.
- Available for adults
- 50 years plus
- 18 years plus at increased risk of shingles
- Has a lower side effects profile
- Patient Information Leaflet
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