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Is There a Shingles Vaccine?

Updated on November 9, 2014

Shingles Vaccine

I don't know about you, except for the vaccine for the flu virus, hearing the news that there's a vaccine for an adult disease, reminds me of childhood immunizations. I guess that harks back to my childhood, and it reminds me of the old saying, "once a man, twice a child."

Who would have thought that as you get older you'll need a vaccination. Well that's the case. As if we didn't have enough to contend with as we get older. Now something that we thought we 'd conquered, chickenpox, comes back into the picture. Herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles, a relative of chickenpox. More about that later.

I read that once you reach 60 years old, and have had chickenpox, you're susceptible to shingles. And yes there is a vaccination for it.

The vaccination for shingles was licensed in 2006, and is given in a single dose. Clinical trials has shown that the vaccination reduced the risk of shingles by 50%.

Not everyone should have the vaccine, for instance, if you've ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, neomycin, or any other component of shingles vaccine, then it wouldn't be a good idea to have the vaccine. Also if you have a weakened immune system due to AIDS, or anything that effects the immune system, such as a cancer treatment involving radiation, or chemotherapy. Now, here is a funny one. If you are pregnant or might get pregnant, (at 60, I'm just saying). I guess that had to be added, because of the advancements in medicine, which enables pregnancy at any age. Well!

Actually I didn't find any serious problems identified with the shingles vaccine. So, after weighing all the information concerning the vaccine, an intelligent, informed decision can be made, whether or not to have it.

What is shingles

Herpes zoster, commonly known as Shingles is a viral disease caused by the Varicella-Zoster virus, this is the same virus that causes chickenpox, which generally occurs in children and young people. Once the virus that causes chickenpox has subsided in the form of chickenpox the virus does not leave the body, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near the spinal cord and brain, and years later can go on to cause shingles. Shingles is characterized by painful skin rash with blisters usually on one side of the body, often in a strip or sometimes a belt like pattern. Please view the videos contained in this hub.


Usually one-sided pain, burning, or tingling signals the first symptom.  The burning and pain may be very intense.  Red patches followed by small blisters that are similar to chickenpox in its earlier stages, (if you can remember back that far), appear on the skin, in a form of a band of blisters that wraps from the middle of the back around one side of the chest to the breastbone.  When the blisters break they form small ulcers that begin to dry and form crusts.  The crusts fall off in 2 to 3 weeks.   It may also involve the face, eyes, mouth and ears.

Other symptoms may also include:

  • General ill-feeling
  • Chills and Fevers
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty moving some of the muscles in the face
  • Taste and Vision problems
  • Swollen glands (lymph nodes)
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Genital lesions
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Loss of eye motion


Shingles rash usually disappear within 2 to 4 weeks, however some sufferers may experience residual nerve pain for months or even years. Treatment to relieve the pain is available. Some doctors may prescribe an antiviral medicine called acyclovir. There are similar drugs called desciclovir, famciclovir, valacyclovir and peniclovir that are sometimes used. It is recommended that medication be started within 24 hours of feeling pain or burning, when shingles is suspected, and before blisters appear. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone is sometimes used to reduce swelling and pain. Of course not all medications work for all, so everything possible should be tried.

Other medicines that maybe used include:

  • Zostrix, a cream containing capsaicin
  • Antihistamines, taken by mouth or applied to the skin
  • Pain medicines

  • Other treatments sometimes recommended are: Cool wet compresses, soothing baths using colloidal oatmeal, or, starch. Also lotions, such as calamine lotion.

Is shingles contagious

Is shingles contagious, yes, if the person has not had chickenpox, however,  instead of developing shingles, they develop chickenpox. Shingles is not transmitted through sneezes or coughs, it cannot pass through the air. Shingles is spread from an infected person to a susceptible person through contact with the blisters or rashes. This happens when the blisters have clear fluid and when the blisters have not crusted over.

To prevent the spread of shingles, the suggestion is to keep the blisters covered, while the blisters have clear fluid and not crusted over. Once the blisters are crusted over, the virus cannot be spread.


So, with all the  available information an informed decision as to whether or not to have the vaccination, can be made intelligently.

© 2009 Alfreta Sailor


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    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 6 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you very much Patty. Now that's interesting, I'll have to do more research, I didn't know that shingles could last that long at one stretch. Thanks, Patty for the extra information on the subject, and thanks for stopping, hope to see you again soon.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Great information and well presented. I know a man who was bedridden with shingles for 12 months. His daughter moved in to take care of him for that year. It was extremely painful for hum.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you Pamela for taking time to read and leave your experience. I hope the reader of the hub reads your comment, because you added valuable information to my info. Thanks again for stopping, please stop again soon.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 8 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Good information. I've had shingles. It was shortly after I turned 50. It involved the right side of my head and down the right side of neck. Shingles can leave a person blind so that was the doctor's first concern, but the pain was worse than anything I had ever experienced. (Yes, even worse than child birth because with shingles you don't know when it's going to end. It could be a week of horrific pain up to, I think I heard, 88 days.) I was lucky because I identified it and got on the medicine within the first 3 days. If you're later than three days, the medicine can't help. I don't remember the pain now, but I remember writing it down in the exact description of what I was feeling at the time. I wrote that it felt like somebody was harshly rubbing the surface of my skin on the right side of my head and neck with a thousand tiny shards of glass. The nerve system is involved. The pain is so great, one can hardly get any sleep. It's especially dangerous for elderly people because it's too much to bear for too long.

      Very valuable hub.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you K Partin for reading my hub. I agree about getting the word out, I also never knew that much about shingles, I'm glad I did the research. Thanks for stopping by, please come back.

    • K Partin profile image

      K Partin 8 years ago from Garden City, Michigan

      Hey fastfreta, very good hub and informative. Need to get the word out there. This is one nasty virus, my neighbor who is 85 had it in her eye, she has recovered nicely but this is good to know. Thanks for sharing. Kerry

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you Debby for your compliment and comment. Yes, I just found Peter and I do appreciate his positivity, and his writing skills.

      I love homeopathy, it's my preferred method of treatment. Of course, I'm not an expert, and I can't say that I always use homeopathic treatments, but I do whenever I can find a homeopathic remedy for what ails me. I will be in touch with you periodically to consult with you on treatments if that's okay with you.

      Thank you for stopping by, please stop by again soon.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 8 years ago

      Freta ~ Really well written hub on shingles. I see you are also a fan of Peter, the young wise man with the positive attitude. I'm happy to meet you. My expertise is homeopathy, which is a well-respected form of medicine in India, Germany, France, England, Cuba and many other countries around the world.

      Homeopathy has many remedies that are specifically related to the symptoms of each disease and the way the individual expresses their own pattern.

      I applaud your writing skills. Thumbs Up! Hugs, Debby

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank skeletons, I hope the information will help all those that are susceptible to the disease. I personally benefited from what I learned. Thanks for stopping, please stop again.

    • profile image

      skeletons 8 years ago

      A very good friend of mine had shingles. This would have been great information to have. Thank you for sharing. Smart to include the products list.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you AllMomNeeds2know, until writing this hub, I didn't realize shingles was so common. Thanks for stopping, please come again.

    • AllMomNeeds2know profile image

      AllMomNeeds2know 8 years ago

      Great informative hub. I know someone who's getting over shingles right now. I don't agree with vacinating for everything though. thanks for the info

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks Drew Breezzy and Lady_E for stopping by, and your comments. Please stop by again soon.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank for an informative Hub. It's good to know what the symptoms are.... and even better, that you listed some Medication.

      Regards. :)

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 8 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      Just learned what shingles is EH

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks aefrancisco for stopping by, please come again.

      Thank you so much create a page, I too never realized it was as bad as it is, and I'm glad I found out about it myself. Thanks for weighing in on it. See you soon.

      Thanks pmccray, I agree, another thing for us to worry about. What a shame. LOL! Thanks for stopping, please stop over again soon.

    • aefrancisco profile image

      aefrancisco 8 years ago from somewhere down the road

      Very Informative

    • create a page profile image

      create a page 8 years ago from Maryland, USA

      You have provided valuable information here fastfreta (or should I say Dr. fastfreta?). I have heard about shingles but I never realized that it was that bad. Years ago my children came home from school with the chicken pox and I caught it. If shingles is anything like it, people should do whatever it takes to avoid it. Thanks so much for sharing. I look forward to reading your next hub.

    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 8 years ago from Utah

      Great something else I have to look forward too in my old age. I had the chickenpox twice!!! Can't wait so glad you wrote this article if it happens I probably would lose it...very informative thats so much.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Bingskee, I sure hope that isn't the case, but you never know these days, simple disease sometimes do morph into something complicated. Thanks for visiting, please come again soon

      Storytellersus, I'm sorry to hear that. Since I've only read about it, I'd like to get first hand experiences, to see if the information that I read is entirely true, so maybe you could write a hub, documenting your experience. But if you'd rather not revisit the experience, I'd understand. Thanks for visiting, please come again.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      i have been fortunate to have shingles, haha. ugh. good hub.

    • bingskee profile image

      bingskee 8 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      as i read this i was visualizing a virus mutating into a more deadly virus. thank you for sharing this informative hub.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you Tammy for the information concerning the fact that it is not age related, see I didn't learn that from my research. That is a bit of info that everyone needs to know. Also thanks for sharing your experience.

      Thanks Veronica for stopping, and I'm glad that you found this information helpful.

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 8 years ago from Georgia

      I never knew there was a vaccination for this, thanks for sharing this information with us. I'll be sure to share it with my older relations.

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 8 years ago

      It's not totally age related I had two bouts with it ten years ago...luckily with my last treatment I haven't had an outbreak since then. I am really glad there is a vaccine now. Just thought I would share that since everyone else is. Thanks for the great hub Freta!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      alekhouse, you probably could have written a first hand account about it. Did you get the vaccine yet?

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      I'm so sorry to hear about that habee, hopefully now, though, others that are susceptible to it will not have the fate of your aunt.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      So glad there's finally a vaccine for Shingles. I had it about 6 years ago and it was absolutely wful. I hope I never get it again!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Wish the vaccine had been around for my aunt. She suffered terribly from shingles. She died in 2000, however.

      Great info!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks BookFlame, for your compliment and comment, and thanks for the rating. Please stop over again soon.

    • profile image

      BookFlame 8 years ago

      FastFreta, you continue to surprise me with your topics. Very well written and informative. I hope I don't get shingles, but I'll bookmark this in case I do! Rate it UP!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you Hello, hello, I too have heard of it for years, but I didn't know that it was a particular age related disease.

      Thanks Tammy for your compliment and for taking time to read my hub.

      Thank you both for stopping, please come again soon.

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 8 years ago

      Very informative and right on the money. Shingles are very painful. You are most brilliant my friend!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      I heard of it, but never knew all these symptons. I believe it is quite painful. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.


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