“Shingles” is a virus that causes a very painful blistering rash along the course of a single nerve. It can occur anywhere on the body, and can even affect the eye.
Shingles is related to the chickenpox virus. After we have the chickenpox, the same virus migrates up our nerve fibers, and lives in our spinal cord for the rest of our lives. When we become “run down”, the virus can then re-activate, and it travels down the course of a single nerve, causing this painful condition.
More than 99% of Americans age 40 years and older have had the chickenpox, even if they don’t remember having the disease.
There is a new vaccination called “Shingrix”. Shingrix is recommended for people who are 50 and over. It is also recommended at younger ages for those with immune system problems or those who have a chronic health condition. It is given as two different doses taken several months apart.
The vaccination is recommended even for people who had the prior shingles vaccine, as this vaccination is more effective. It is also recommended for those who have had shingles in the past, as you can get shingles more than once.
Unfortunately there is currently a shortage of the vaccination as it is in very high demand.