Health Team

Shingles vaccine reduces occurrence in elderly

Posted January 11, 2011

Elderly people stand a lesser chance of getting shingles if they are vaccinated for the disease, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers studied three years of medical records of more than 300,000 adults over age 60, comparing the incidence of shingles between those who received the vaccine and those who did not.

Shingles is an itchy, blistering rash on the skin caused when the dormant chicken pox virus reactivates in the body, usually much later in life.

"We found that vaccination against shingles is associated with a 50 percent lower risk of developing shingles in the elderly population,” said Hun Fu Tseng with the Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group.

Researchers also found that adults over age 75, the age group with the highest incidence of shingles, had a lower rate of shingles after receiving the vaccine.

The vaccine is a single shot and available to anyone over age 60, because that is the age group most often affected by the painful and debilitating condition.


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  • AF Flight Nurse Jan 18, 2011

    Totally agree! Sincerely hope you feel better soon.

  • DangYankee Jan 18, 2011

    I was diagnosed with shingles YESTERDAY! Mine is not presenting with the rash (zoster sine herpete), but the "band" of pain on my scalp is terrible, and extends to the hairline by the left side of my face. My scalp burns when touched, and the normally innocuous act of touching my hair causes pain.

    I am under 55 - wish the vaccine was available for me. I am on a heavy dose of antiviral medication, plus pain tablets. Hopefully I won't develop the rash. I can't imagine an elderly person going through this, and my 76 y.o. mom got the vaccine last year.

  • AF Flight Nurse Jan 17, 2011

    Just like other viral and infectious illnesses which have been eradicated through credible and peer reviewed/validated public health study, this is all about public health.

    For a moment, walk with me in your imagination through the city of Nairobi, Kenya which is a relatively attractive, modern metropolitan tourist laden area in East Africa. You may witness the underprivileged and underserved frequently pushing themselves around through town on the calloused palms of their hands with contorted legs tucked under them that no longer function. You wonder to yourself: why?

    The answer: polio versus no polio vaccine.

  • AF Flight Nurse Jan 17, 2011

    With age comes understanding.

    Shingles is a viral syndrome from the chicken pox virus lying in a dormant state in the nerve roots until it activates into the symptoms mentioned above.

    The varicella or chicken pox vaccine was introduced in 1995 with a significant effect on the outbreak of the same. YOu don't hear much about chicken pox anymore for an obvious reason.

    This vaccine is a blessing.

    All it takes is seeing one elderly individual with a virulent case of shingles to have compassion on the acute nerve pain (which medicine does not touch) with disfiguring effects of a scabby rash which moves along the affected nerve pathways or dermatomes up toward your neck. Imagine if you will, a swath from your lower spine up to your upper chest covered in new lesions, oozing vessicles, scabbing and underlying healing epidermis in various stages of healing.

    Just like other viral and infectious illnesses which have been eradicated through credible and peer reviewed/validated public h

  • Viewer Jan 14, 2011

    Baybee Doll, Those of us old enough to remember people dying or being crippled or disabled from diseases that are now preventable by vaccines are going to be very pro-vaccine.

  • fuzzmom Jan 13, 2011

    Yes, people get it under 60 and it is debilitating, no matter the age!!

  • jan63 Jan 13, 2011

    shingles does also occur in younger people.
    I had it when I was about 30 on my torso and scalp.
    it was so very painful just trying to wash my hair!!!
    the vaccine should be made available to the young also.

  • Baybee Doll Jan 12, 2011

    I wrote a comment about this being another pro-vaccine article. Funny how my comment and any others opposing vaccines were not posted!

  • lorriepocher Jan 12, 2011

    You can get the vaccine if you're under 60. Several of my friends got shingles before age 60. I had to pay for my shot up front, but my drug insurance reimbursed me for it. Check around for prices. I'd rather pay for it out of pocket just to get the shot and not miss work or have the incredible pain.

  • IzzMad2016 Jan 12, 2011

    My 75 yr old mother-in-law has spent more than a year getting over her shingles. They are so incredibly painful. She said she was so sick the first 5 months that she was afraid she was going to die. I don't think the vaccine is available for anyone under 60 but I will definitely be getting one when I am eligible.