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What is Shingles Vaccine and How Does it Help?

Shingle is a viral infection that causes a tingling sensation on the skin followed by a painful rash that may last for several weeks or longer. It is considered an adult version of chickenpox, which is more common in people over the age of 50. Shingles is the same virus that leads to chickenpox in childhood only that it lies inactive in the nerve tissue around the brain and spinal cord before it is reactivated years later as shingles.

Shingles vaccine helps to reduce the risk of shingles in older people. Administering the vaccine early lessens the chance of complications, as it helps to shorten shingles infection. In this article, we will be looking at the general information about the shingles vaccine and the way it helps to minimize the risk of shingles.

An Overview of the Shingles Vaccine

The shingles vaccine is made from a weakened form of live chickenpox virus and other inactive ingredients such as sucrose, sodium chloride, porcine gelatin, and monobasic potassium phosphate. The common side effects of the shingles vaccine are limited to mild irritation and redness at the site of the injection. The CDC has approved this vaccine for adults aged 50 and older who have not encountered the shingles virus. Although the vaccine is meant to minimize the risk of shingles, it is important to understand the way it works to create awareness on the importance of this vaccine.

How Does the Shingles Vaccine Help?

Shingles vaccine fights against the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. You can get the vaccine as a single injection in the upper arm. The vaccine is usually separated in two doses with 2 or 6 months apart. It is comprised of a single protein found in the outer shell of the weakened virus and an adjuvant that enhances the immune response of the body to antigens. Patients who are at high risk for shingles can benefit from the shingles vaccine, as it does not contain a live virus making it a good option for immunocompromised patients.

The body has two types of immunity, which include the white blood cells and protein antibodies. The antibodies prevent the virus from attacking your cells once it starts circulating the body. Shingles vaccines facilitate the production of more antibodies by stimulating the immune system thus generating an increase in white blood cells over the virus. It offers maximum protection that lasts up to four years. However, the second dose is important as it ensures long-term protection against the shingles virus.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends being revaccinated with the shingles vaccine even if you received the initial dose series at childhood. This helps to prevent the shingles virus and minimizes the risk of other related complications.

Is the Shingles Vaccine Safe?

The shingles vaccine is given to individuals with a previous history of shingles infection. It is not recommended for people who are clinically immunosuppressed or have shingles. The reasoning behind this argument is that the vaccine strain could replicate too much causing a serious infection. This vaccine is not recommended for expectant women as a matter of caution since there is very little documentation about its effects on newborns.

Should I Get the Shingles Vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends men and women who are 50 years of age and older to get the shingles vaccination. People at this age bracket are at high risk of contracting the virus due to multiple diagnoses, co-existing health issues, stress factors, and declining immunity. Although these immunizations help to minimize the risk of shingles, it is important to consult your doctor as they determine whether the vaccine is right for you. Talk to your doctor about your family medical history if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any component used in the shingles vaccine.

A healthy immune system is the best natural defense against the shingles virus. However, the shingles vaccine helps to boost your immune system to provide protection against shingles and minimize other health-related complications. Other ways you can prevent shingles is by avoiding toxins such as steroids, eating a healthy diet, and doing plenty of exercises. According to health experts, the shingles vaccine can protect an individual from shingles beyond four years after receiving the first dose. You are not likely to experience a recurrence once you get the shingles virus. It is important to lead a healthy lifestyle as it increases your immunity and minimizes your likelihood of contracting the shingles virus.

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