What is Shingles?
Shingles is a viral disease caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox – the herpes-zoster virus. 95% of adults will have had chicken pox in their childhood/adolescent years. Once you have had chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in your body, and can become active again later in life where it causes Shingles.
Who is at risk of developing Shingles?
Once you have had chicken pox you have the virus inactivate in your body so are at risk of developing shingles. Of the 95% of adults who’ve had chickenpox, approx 25% of these will go on to develop shingles. Generally you have an increased risk of getting shingles if you are
- Over 50 years of age
- Have a weakened immune system
- Under significant stress
- Have certain conditions or on treatments e.g. cancer or HIV.
What are the Symptoms of Shingles?
The symptoms of shingles can range from mild to very severe. Typically it presents as a tingling and some pain on one side of the body, often on your upper body, head, neck or around the eye. A rash can then develop with blisters which can be painful and itchy. The rash can last 2-4 weeks and within this time the blisters dry out and form scabs.
Who is suitable for the shingles vaccination?
The vaccine can be given to people aged 50 or over or those over 18 years who have a higher risk of getting shingles (immunocompromised) (Shringrix only for 18-49 year olds that are immunocompromised).
You can receive the vaccine all year-round from your pharmacy and can even choose to have it at the same time as the winter flu vaccination. If you have had shingles before, you can still have the vaccination provided it’s been over 1 year since you have had shingles.
It is recommended to leave a gap of at least seven days between getting the COVID-19 vaccination and a shingles vaccination.
Why should I get the shingles Vaccine?
Shingles pain is often described as burning or stabbing pain in the area of the rash which can be constant or intermittent. The level of pain experienced and duration of pain varies from person to person. It usually is most severe in first couple of days and then subsides in max 2-4 weeks. However, for some people they can experience long-term nerve pain after the rash has healed. This is known as post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) and can last weeks, months or in some even years.
The older you are, the higher the chance you have of developing PHN after shingles. Getting the vaccine not only helps reduce your risk of developing shingles, but can lessen the severity and duration of any symptoms, as well as reducing greatly your risk of developing PHN.
There are two shingles vaccines currently available in Ireland, one is a live vaccine called Zostavax (given as one dose) and the other is a recombinant vaccine called Shingrix (given as a two dose).
We offer both vaccinations in Meaghers.
• Studies have shown that four months after two doses of the Shingrix vaccine that its efficacy at preventing shingles was as follows:**
• Aged 50 to 69 years 100%
• Aged 70 to 79 years 93%
• Aged 80 years and older 71%
• Studies have shown that three months after one dose of the Zostavax vaccine that its efficacy at preventing shingles was as follows:**
• Aged 50 to 59 years 70%
• Aged 60 to 69 years 64%
• Aged 60 to 79 years 41%
• Aged 80 years and older 41% at 5 years
It is important to remember that also if you do still get shingles after vaccination, the vaccine can also help reduce the severity of the symptoms and also the risk of developing post herpetic neuralgia (PHN), the long-lasting nerve pain that follows shingles.
Who should NOT get the shingles vaccine?
- The shingles vaccine is not recommended if pregnant. If breastfeeding talk to your doctor to check if getting the vaccine at this time.
- You shouldn’t get the shingles vaccine if you have a history of severe allergic reaction to any of the shingles vaccine components
- If you have thrombocytopenia or any coagulation disorder, talk to your pharmacist as you may not be eligible to get the vaccination in the pharmacy.
If you’re in any doubt or would like further information on getting the vaccine call any of our stores or pop in to talk to your pharmacist. We can give you more information about the vaccination and advise whether it’s suitable for you.
What are the possible Side-effects Post vaccine?
Like with all vaccines occasionally, people develop side-effects after receiving a shingles vaccination. Usually these are mild and go away in a day or two.
These are the side effects that can be experienced with Shingrix vaccine:
Very common (>1 in 10)
- Stomach and digestive complaints (including nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and/or stomach pain)
- Pain - Muscle pain (myalgia), redness and swelling at injection site
- Feeling tired, chills, fever
Common (<1/100 or >1 in 10)
- Itching where the injection is given (pruritus)
- Malaise (tiredness)
These are the side effects that can be experienced with Zostavax vaccine:
Very common (>1 in 10) :
- Redness, pain, swelling, itching at the injection site
Common (<1/100 or >1 in 10):
- Warmth, bruising, rash, and a hard lump at the injection site. Headache, pain in the arm or leg, joint pain, muscle pain and fever
• Less common reactions include nausea, swollen glands at the neck or armpits, hives at the injection site
• Very rare Reaction : varicella (chickenpox) - if you do experience this side effect, post live vaccine, you should avoid direct contact with people who haven’t had chicken pox until your rash is dry and crusted, e.g. infants/ pregnant ladies who have not had chicken pox.
How do I avail of the vaccination service?
To avail of the vaccination service, simply call into one of our stores and ask to speak to the Pharmacist. The pharmacist will be able to advise on your vaccine and set up an appointment time for you.
The cost of the ONE dose Shingles Vaccination Service is €210. The vaccine administered is Zostavax.
The cost of the TWO dose Shingles Vaccination Service is €486 (€243 per vaccination dose). The vaccine administered in Shingrix.
For the two dose vaccine, the second dose is usually given two months after the first dose.