The virus that causes chicken pox and its nasty rash stays in the body and can cause shingles later in life.

The virus that causes chicken pox and its nasty rash stays in the body and can cause shingles later in life.
Photo Credit: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

New shingles vaccine protects against excruticating pain

Share

Most Canadians born before 1995 have had chicken pox and are at risk of developing the horribly painful disease, shingles. But a new vaccine offers an over 90 per cent chance of preventing shingles.

‘Terrible’ nerve pain can last weeks, months

“For many people shingles is a fairly minor disease,” says Dr. Allison McGeer, director of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. “But for a significant subset, with shingles comes this terrible neuralgic pain which can last for weeks or months. And it’s that level of pain and the degree of pain that makes us want so very badly to prevent people from getting shingles.”

Listen

Canadian children born after 1995 were most likely vaccinated against chicken pox. Almost everyone born before has had the disease. The virus stays in the body and can emerge, particularly in the older person, as shingles and its accompanying rash and pain.

Seniors have long been advised to get vaccinations against the flu. They are now also urged to get a shot to protect against shingles.
Seniors have long been advised to get vaccinations against the flu. They are now also urged to get a shot to protect against shingles. © Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

Chicken pox less prevalent in equatorial countries

Out of all Canadians who have had chicken pox, 28 to 35 per cent will get shingles and of those who do, one in five will experience severe pain. Chicken pox is more prevalent in temperate climates and much less common in equatorial countries.

“Because shingles is a disease of older people, you see more and more of it as your population ages,” says McGeer. “It’s also a disease that is much more common in people who are immune compromised.”  Throughout the world there are more people who have had bone marrow or organ transplants, cancer treatments, or treatment for diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and these weaken the immune system making people more vulnerable to shingles.

Newer vaccine found to be more effective

Many older Canadians have sought the existing vaccine against shingle Zostavax. But it is only 70 per cent effective in protecting people between the ages of 50 and 65 and even less so in older people. It is also unclear how long the protection lasts.

Testing suggests a new vaccine called Shingrix is more than 90 per cent effective, even in the elderly, and it has lasted the three or four years that it has been tested. Shingrix has been approved by the Canadian government and should be available sometime this month, but it is expensive at $244 plus pharmacy dispensing fees.

Seniors should get vaccinated, says doctor

Most vaccines are paid for by governments in Canada, but the process can be long and it may be a few years before Shingrix is covered. In the meantime, McGeer says older Canadians who have had chicken pox should definitely get it. If they have recently received the Zostavax vaccination they might wait a few years while that vaccination is still effective in hopes that governments will offer the new Shingrix for free after that.

People who develop the typical rash and stabbing pain may be able to stave off an attack of shingles if they take antivirals within 72 hours,

Share
Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Health

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*