The shingles vaccine has been approved to be placed on the National Immunisation Program (NIP), to be provided free of charge from 1 November 2016 to people aged 70 years, subject to vaccine supply. There will also be a five year catch-up program for people aged 71 – 79 years.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which is also responsible for chickenpox. It occurs because of a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, which remains in the nerve cells of the body after an attack of chickenpox.
People who get chickenpox are at risk of developing shingles later in life, since the virus lies dormant in the body. Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles. However, people who have never had chickenpox can catch the virus from another person with shingles. A person who has never had chickenpox, but comes into contact with a case of shingles, would develop chickenpox (not shingles).
Shingles symptoms may include headache, light sensitivity, malaise, and itching, tingling or severe pain along the affected nerve area .In the majority of patients, HZ is an acute and self-limiting disease, with the rash lasting 10 to 15 days. However, complications can occur, especially with increasing age.
Post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), the most frequent debilitating complication of HZ, is a neuropathic pain syndrome that persists or develops after the dermatomal rash has healed. PHN is most commonly defined as the persistence of pain for longer than 3 months after the onset of the rash (although definitions can vary by the period of persistent pain).Other complications may occur, depending on the site of reactivation. These include eye involvement, meningitis, secondary bacterial skin infection, scarring and pneumonia.
Shingles vaccine is a live weakened vaccine so you need to check with your doctor first if it is safe to have it.
For further info, please visit the Better channel website.