All of us who had the varicella-zoster virus (chicken pox) as children may remember how unpleasant it was. And we probably thought we’d paid our dues, so to speak, by suffering through the fever, itchy sores, even scars and secondary infections that were part of the chicken pox experience for many of us.
But there’s more
Now, thanks in part to several years of TV ad campaigns, most of us have learned that if we had chicken pox, it’s possible to get an even worse viral disease later in life, herpes zoster, or shingles. That’s because the varicella-zoster virus stays in our bodies, dormant, until triggered when our immune system is stressed.
Shingles can be nasty
It can cause burning pain and oozing blisters, and can be difficult to treat. Even when the blistery rash fades, the pain that is emanating from the nerves in our bodies can remain and even intensify. But there is a vaccine that can reduce our chances of having shingles,
The CDC recommends people 60 and over get a shingles vaccine
The current vaccine can’t cure the disease, and only prevents shingles outbreaks about 64% of the time. And by age 70, the vaccine is only about 38% effective. But it still improves your odds over not having the vaccine.
A new, improved shingles vaccine is under development
The new vaccine is designed to provide almost complete protection and was proven to be 97% effective in a recent study involving 16,000 participants.
It may be available as early as 2017
The new vaccine is reported to contain a chemical that “wakes up” our immune systems, a method that has been used successfully in other vaccines.
If you come down with shingles
If you experience a burning or tingling sensation on one side of your body, or if you already have an itchy, burning rash, it’s important that you see Dr. Bucay as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. She can help you find relief from the pain, itching and other symptoms that can be associated with the disease.