WILMINGTON – Shingles vaccine (Zostavax) is now available at the Clinton County Health District.
Zostavax is the first and only vaccine that protects against shingles. Shingles is a painful skin rash which is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.
Shingles occurs only in people who have had a prior infection with chickenpox. More than 95 percent of people in the US who were born before 1981 have had chickenpox, even though some may not know it. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the body, and may reactivate many years later, causing shingles.
The shingles rash usually occurs on one side of the face or body and lasts from 2 to 4 weeks. The main symptom of shingles is pain, which can be severe. Other symptoms may include fever, headache, and chills. About 1-4 percent of people who develop shingles are hospitalized for complications, such as pneumonia or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
Rarely, a person may die due to complications of shingles. There are about one million cases of shingles each year in the U.S., and about 100 deaths.
“We are excited to offer Zostavax in our clinic since its introduction (in 2006) has reduced incidence of shingles by about 50% in people who get the vaccine,” said Dr. Terry Holten, Clinton County Health District Medical Director. “Even though a person who gets the vaccine may still get shingles (no vaccine is 100 percent effective), the severity of pain and the incidence of post-herpetic neuralgia (prolonged pain) is reduced when compared to people who have not had the vaccine.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults age 60 and over should get one dose of the shingles vaccine. Zostavax should not be given to anyone who is allergic to gelatin or neomycin, is pregnant, or has a weakened immune system because of AIDS, cancer, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, or prolonged use of high-dose steroids or other medications that weaken the immune system.
Adults age 60 and older who wish to receive Zostavax should call the Nursing Department at the Clinton County Health District at 937-382-7221 to schedule an appointment, and to discuss payment options. Zostavax is also available during regular clinic hours: 8-9 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 1-2:45 pm. Wednesday; and 4:30-6:45 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday.
The Clinton County Health District is a Public Health Levy Supported Agency.