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Published on August 04, 2020

senior getting shingles vaccine

Don’t Skip the Shingles Shot!

As we get older, it’s pretty easy to forgo recommended immunizations. But after age 50, consider getting the shingles vaccine from your primary care provider. It’s two shots, with the booster given approximately six months after the first inoculation.

“I’ve had friends who have had shingles,” said Beth Warden, who visited a local Avera clinic to receive her shingles vaccination. “Over coffee, they’ve looked me straight in the eye and told me, ‘Make it a priority, you don’t want to get shingles — GET THE SHOT!’”

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Even if you’ve already had chickenpox, the virus can become reactivated. Or, if an adult with shingles spends time around a child who is unvaccinated for chickenpox, the virus may cause chickenpox in the child.

“Nearly 30% of people develop shingles in their lifetime,” said Michelle McElroy, MD, a specialist in family medicine and obstetrics at Avera Medical Group McGreevy Brandon.

People with a compromised immune system, particularly older people, are more susceptible to the virus. It can also be brought on by a stressful event or time in life.

Shingles manifest as a painful rash that emerges at nerve endings near the surface of the skin.

The sharp, stinging rash may stay around for one to two weeks, but the lingering pain may last for months. If the rash activates on your face — and makes its way to your eyes — it can cause blindness.

“A person can only get shingles more than once if they didn’t get the vaccination,” added McElroy.

Your body develops shingles immunity about a month after the first shot.

Some patients may experience side effects associated of the shingles vaccine. Within a day, you may feel soreness at the site of injection and have minor flu-like symptoms, such as a low fever. Take an acetaminophen, such as Tylenol®, or contact your provider if these symptoms don’t alleviate.

Most insurance plans cover the shingles vaccine if you’re over age 50, but it’s still important to check with your insurance provider before your appointment.

A number of immunizations are recommended for people of all ages, so it’s important to stay up to date. Learn more about how to protect you and your family.

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