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Is the Shingles Vaccine Worthwhile?

Is the Shingles Vaccine Worthwhile?
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Every year, at least 1 million people in the U.S. develop shingles, yet studies show that fewer than 10 percent of the population has received the vaccine. With one out of every three Americans that will experience shingles in their lifetime, and approximately one-third ending up with debilitating life-long complications, like chronic pain syndrome called post-herpetic neuralgia, are you willing to take the chance?

Anyone who has had chickenpox can be at risk of shingles, also called herpes zoster, because they are both caused by the same virus, varicella zoster virus (VZV). Shingles typically plague people 50 years and older and are a particular threat in immunosuppressed individuals—those who are receiving cancer treatments, have HIV, or organ transplant patients—as their immune systems are already weakened or suppressed.

The first warning signs of shingles may be felt rather than seen, with tell-tale signs such as itching, tingling, or burning. Within a few days a rash of fluid-filled blisters appears, usually localized on only one side of the face or body. The rash, which usually last from two to four weeks, can be painful, with pain levels ranging form mild to severe in intensity. For most people, the pain from the shingles lessens as the rash heals, but for some people, shingles may lead to a debilitating chronic pain that can last for months or even years.

A person with a shingles rash can pass the virus to someone else, usually a child, who has never had chickenpox, but the child will develop chickenpox, not shingles. A person with chickenpox cannot communicate shingles to someone else, as shingles come from the virus hibernating within the body, not from an outside source.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has adopted the unanimous recommendation of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for the use of ZOSTAVAX® (Zoster Vaccine Live) as a prevention of shingles in adults aged 60 and older. ZOSTAVAX is not a treatment for the disease, but is the only vaccine available to prevent shingles.

Shingles vaccines are available at your doctor’s office or at one of the 800 SUPERVALU in-store pharmacies (stores include Acme, Albertsons,, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop ‘n Save, and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy). Vaccinations are provided by trained and certified immunizing pharmacists and are available with an insurance co-pay, as well as for those uninsured.

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