As we start scheduling yearly physicals this new year, we often overlook getting a shingles vaccine. Shingles is a painful red rash consisting of small fluid-filled blisters that develop on one side of the face or body. It is caused by reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox, Varicella Zoster. Often, prior to getting the rash, the skin in that area may be painful or itchy.
One complication of shingles is post-herpetic neuralgia. This is a burning pain that remains even after the rash clears. While there are ways to treat shingles and post- herpetic neuralgia once it occurs, the best way to prevent this is to get a shingles vaccine. The recombinant Zoster vaccine or Shingrix is now recommended for adults 50 and older even if they are not sure if they have had chicken pox in the past. This is because, per the CDC, almost all Americans that are 40 years and older have had chickenpox even if they do not remember having the disease.
The vaccine is administered in two doses, two to six months apart. As per the CDC, in adults 50 to 69 years old that got two doses, Shingrix was 97% effective in preventing shingles; among adults 70 years and older, Shingrix was 91% effective. It was also very effective in preventing post-herpetic neuralgia.
There is another shingles vaccine called Zostavax that was used in the past. As of November 2020, Zostavax is no longer available for use in the U.S. It is recommended that adults get the Shingrix vaccine, even if they have had the Zostavax vaccine or even shingles in the past because of how effective it is. The most common side effects are similar to other vaccines including redness, swelling and pain at the injection site. The Shingrix vaccine is available in many doctors’ offices and pharmacies. Please talk to your healthcare provider for further information or if you have any other questions.
Dr. Rita George graduated with honors from Villanova University in PA with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. After completing her undergraduate degree, she received her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harrogate, Tennessee. Dr. George completed her Family Medicine Residency at Lonesome Pine in Big Stone Gap, VA. While in residency, she was working at Wellmont Physician Services (currently called Ballad Health) as a resident physician.
Dr. Rita George specializes in a wide variety of conditions and injuries. She treats significant diseases and conditions including cold and flu, asthma and allergies, ear and eye infections, diabetes, high blood pressure, minor wound care, and muscle tears and sprains.
To schedule an appointment, call (215) 785-9677.
Lower Bucks Hospital Community Health Center | 3rd Floor | 501 Bath Road | Bristol, PA 19007 | T: (215) 785-9677 | https://lowerbuckshosp.com/