|August 15, 2013
Shingles vaccination available at Tribal Health
ST. IGNATIUS — Baby Boomers might have heard about shingles from their elderly grandparents way back in the day before the day and perhaps surmised that is was a disease for old folks and they wouldn’t have to worry about for a long time, if at all. While that time is now and there are plenty of new old folks — elderly Baby Boomers — on the block that should consider getting a shingles vaccination especially those who had chickenpox as a youngster. If so then the shingles virus has been lying dormant since then and could rear its painful head anytime. To help increase the odds — up to 50 percent — against the possibility of shingles or to lessen its effects healthcare providers urge folks 60 years of age and older to get the one-shot vaccination.
The shingles vaccination is available at the Tribal Health and Human Services Community Health Division, temporary located in the former day care building just west of the Salish Pend d’Oreille Longhouse.
Shingles is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person has chickenpox, the virus stays in their body, lying dormant in nerve tissue. It may not cause problems for many years, if at all but as a person gets older, the virus may reappear as shingles. Unlike chickenpox, a person can't catch shingles from someone who has it.
A person should go to their healthcare provider if they develop a rash. By looking at the rash, the healthcare provider can tell whether a person has shingles and start them on treatment if they do.
Early signs of shingles include burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching, usually on one side of the body or face. The pain can be mild to severe; blisters then form and last from one to 14 days. The pain of shingles may last for weeks, months or even years after the blisters have healed.
If shingles appears on the face, it may affect vision or hearing. For instance, if shingles affects the eye, the cornea can become infected and lead to temporary or permanent blindness.
There is no cure for shingles. Early treatment with medicines that fight the virus may help. These medicines may also help prevent lingering pain. A vaccine may help prevent the incidence of shingles or lessen its effects. The vaccine is for people 60 or over. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that a person get a single dose of the shingles vaccine even if they already had shingles.
Very rarely, a shingles infection can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis) or death
At least 1 million people in the United States get shingles each year. Health experts estimate the vaccine could prevent 250,000 cases of shingles that occur in the United States each year and significantly reduce the severity of the disease in another 250,000 cases annually.
Another complication of the virus is post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), a condition in which the pain from shingles lasts for months, sometimes years, after the shingles rash has healed. Antiviral medicines may also help stave off the painful after effects of PHN. Other treatments for PHN include painkillers, steroids, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medicine. Usually, PHN will get better over time.
The shingles vaccine is not for everyone though.
A person should not get shingles vaccine who:
• has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of shingles vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
• has a weakened immune system because of current:
- AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system,
- treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, such as prolonged use of high-dose steroids,
- cancer treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy,
- cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma,
• is pregnant, or might be pregnant. Women should not become pregnant until at least four weeks after getting shingles vaccine.
Someone with a minor acute illness, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. But anyone with a moderate or severe acute illness should usually wait until they recover before getting the vaccine. This includes anyone with a temperature of 101.3° F or higher.
For more information or to schedule for vaccination, contact THHS Community Health at 745-3525.