Learn Why Adults Over 50 Need the Shingles Vaccine

colorful shingles for the house
via Unsplash

Learn why it's vital for adults over 50 to get the shingles vaccine.

6 Reasons Adults Over 50 Need the Shingles Vaccination

Maybe you remember a time when you were little and incredibly itchy. Maybe your sibling had chickenpox and your mom threw you in the bath with your brother or sister to get it over with, too. Chickenpox was an inevitable part of growing up but thanks to modern medicine, that's no longer the case.

If you had the chickenpox and recovered, you might be more susceptible to shingles. For adults ages 50 and over, it's time to get the shingles vaccine in order to avoid the annoying, irritating, and somewhat dangerous skin rash. Don't believe you need it? There's been a recent shortage due to the high volume of adults seeking the vaccine.

Read more to learn about why adults 50 years and older need the shingles vaccine.

First Off, What Are Shingles?

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso."

What Causes Shingles?

Shingles is "caused by caused by the varicella-zoster virus" and if that sounds familiar, it's the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles can also be known as "herpes zoster".

Who Gets Shingles?

Good news for those of you who have the chickenpox vaccine, you cannot develop shingles. Shingles is "most common in people over the age of 50. However, the virus may reappear in people of all ages who have previously had chickenpox."

Like chickenpox, the virus can "lay dormant for years" but as such, some people may never experience an outbreak of shingles or other problems. It is estimated that in the United States, there are 1 million cases of shingles each year "with 1 in 3 people developing shingles during their lifetime."

What Are the Symptoms of Shingles?

Although the symptoms range, they usually affect a small portion of the body. Some symptoms may include:

  • Red itchy rash

  • Pain or discomfort around the area

  • Numbness or tingling

  • Blistering

  • Sensitivity to touch

It has been reported that some people can also experience: fever, fatigue, sensitivity to light, and headaches. The Mayo Clinic reports, that "some people experience shingles pain without ever developing a rash" so speak to a doctor if you are feeling pain as "it can sometimes be mistake for a symptom of problems affecting the heart, lungs, or kidneys."

Additionally, if you have a rash caused by shingles around or near your face and neck, see your doctor immediately because "when the shingles affect the eye area, the virus can extend into the optic nerve and lead to serious cornea damage."

What Can You Do to Prevent Shingles?

If you are a parent or grandparent to young children, giving them the chickenpox vaccination can help them avoid shingles as they get older. If you are over 50, you should seek out the shingles vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims;

"Your risk of shingles increases as you get older. People 50 and older should get 2 doses of the new shingles vaccine to protect against this painful disease".

Additionally, the CDC recommends a new shingles vaccine called Shingrix.

"Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and is the preferred vaccine over Zostavax, a shingles vaccine in use since 2006. Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and long-term nerve pain. CDC still recommends Zostavax for healthy adults 60 years and older to prevent shingles. This shingles vaccine may be used in certain cases, such as when a person prefers Zostavax or requires immediate vaccination and Shingrix is not available."

As we mentioned before, as of July 2018 there has been an "unprecedented demand for the shingles' vaccine" and you may have to add your name to a waitlist.

Why Is the Shingles Vaccine Important?

Like most vaccines, getting the shingles vaccination is incredibly important. For the 50 plus crowd, all you need are two shots to avoid an irritating and sometimes dangerous skin condition.