Shingles is a painful and sometimes debilitating illness caused by the reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox. The good news is that getting vaccinated with Shingrix can significantly reduce your risk. This vaccine provides numerous health advantages that make it extremely beneficial for adults 50 and older.
Before exploring the many benefits of vaccination, let’s review some key facts about shingles and the Shingrix vaccine:
Caused by the varicella-zoster virus – the same virus that causes chickenpox.
Occurs when the dormant virus reactivates after having chickenpox, often decades later.
Causes a painful, blistering rash most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms include burning, itching, fever, headache, chills.
Complications include postherpetic neuralgia (long-term nerve pain), vision loss, hearing loss, and brain inflammation.
Approved by the FDA in 2017 for shingles prevention.
Given in two injections, 2-6 months apart. Recommended for adults 50 and older.
Over 90% effective at preventing shingles and long-term nerve pain. Protection remains high for at least the first 4 years after vaccination.
Uses recombinant technology – does not contain live virus. Cannot cause shingles or chickenpox.
Major Health Benefits of Shingrix
The number one benefit of Shingrix is powerful protection against the development of shingles. But getting vaccinated provides additional health advantages:
Prevents Debilitating Shingles Pain
Shingles typically causes severe, burning nerve pain that can be extremely difficult to treat and can last for months. Even basic activities like wearing clothes can be agonizing. Shingrix prevents over 90% of cases, sparing people this devastating pain.
Avoids Postherpetic Neuralgia
Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is long-term nerve pain that persists after a shingles rash clears. It can continue for months or even years. Shingrix prevents around 90% of instances of PHN by stopping shingles from occurring in the first place.
Protects Vision and Hearing
If shingles develops in the eyes or ears, it can lead to permanent vision or hearing loss. Shingrix defends against shingles around the eyes and ears, guarding against sensory loss.
Reduces Risk of Brain Inflammation
Rarely, shingles can lead to brain inflammation (encephalitis) which can cause brain damage or death. Shingrix prevents over 90% of shingles cases, including those that could spread to the brain.
Limits Loss of Mobility
Painful shingles rashes often occur on the legs and feet. This can make walking, standing, and balance difficult, limiting mobility. Shingrix can prevent disability from shingles.
Keeps People Healthy & Active
Because it prevents so many cases of the illness, Shingrix helps keep people happy, healthy and active. People can continue enjoying their lives instead of suffering with shingles pain and complications.
Provides Peace of Mind
Knowing you are protected from shingles gives immense peace of mind. People no longer have to worry every time they experience burning, tingling or pain that it might be the beginning of a shingles outbreak.
Important Less Obvious Benefits
Along with the major advantages listed above, getting the Shingrix vaccine provides some other important but less obvious health benefits:
Maintains Quality of Life
Shingles often causes severe, debilitating pain along with emotional distress. Preventing shingles helps maintain overall quality of life and wellbeing.
Saves Time & Money
Preventing illness avoids medical costs like doctor visits, tests and medications. It also saves people time they would spend going to appointments and recuperating.
Reduces Antiviral Use
Antivirals may be prescribed to treat active shingles but they aren’t always effective, especially in older adults. Shingrix reduces the need for antivirals.
Decreases Risk of Transmission
Preventing shingles eliminates the risk you might transmit the virus to others who could then develop chickenpox.
Removes Emotional Stress
Shingles can cause emotional distress not only from the pain but from isolation and resulting depression. Shingrix helps avoid this emotional toll.
Allows Travel Without Worry
People no longer have to worry about a shingles outbreak disrupting travel plans. The vaccine provides freedom.