Shingles Vaccine in London £170

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What is Shingles?

Shingles is a painful skin rash, often with blisters. It is also called Herpes Zoster, or just Zoster.

A shingles rash usually appears on one side of the face or body and lasts from 2 to 4 weeks. Its main symptom is pain, which can be quite severe. Other symptoms of shingles can include fever, headache, chills and upset stomach. Very rarely, a shingles infection can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis) or death.

For about 1 person in 5, severe pain can continue even long after the rash clears up. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia.

Shingles is caused by the Varicella Zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.

Only someone who has had chickenpox—or, rarely, has gotten chickenpox vaccine—can get shingles. The virus stays in your body, and can cause shingles many years later.

You can’t catch shingles from another person with shingles. However, a person who has never had chickenpox (or chicken pox vaccine) could get chickenpox from someone with shingles. This is not very common.

Shingles is far more common in people 50 years of age and older than in younger people. It is also more common in people whose immune systems are weakened because of a disease such as cancer, or drugs such as steroids or chemotherapy.

What is the Shingles Vaccine?

Zostavax is is the first and only vaccine indicated to help prevent shingles in individuals 50 years of age or older. Zostavax is given as a single-dose injection and works by boosting your immune system to help protect you from shingles.

Can I get the Shingles Vaccine for free on the NHS?

The shingles vaccine is only available to individuals aged 70 or 79. If you are aged 71 you will need to wait for 8 years to become eligible again. If you are not aged 70 or 79 you will not be eligible to receive the vaccine for free under the NHS (for more infromation visit http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/shingles-vaccination.aspx)

How does the Shingles Vaccine Work?

The vaccine contains a weakened chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus). It's similar, but not identical to, the chickenpox vaccine.

The vaccine is very effective and only occasionally do people develop a chickenpox-like illness following shingles vaccination (fewer than 1 in 10,000 individuals).

How long will the Shingles Vaccine Last?

There is no exact answer for this but current research indicates that the vaccine lasts for at least 3 years and probably longer.

I've already had Shingles. Can I still get the Shingles vaccine?

The shingles vaccine works very effectively if you've already had Shingles. It will help boost your immunity against further shingles attacks. The pharmacist will be able to discuss this further with you in your consultation.

What are the symptoms of shingles?

The symptoms of shingles can range from mild to severe and can be very unpleasant for some.

Shingles is characterised by a painful rash, usually affecting one side of the body, most often on the upper body, but shingles can also develop on the head and neck, or the eye.

Shingles usually starts with a headache, fever, and tiredness, and you are likely to feel unwell. It's very common to feel a tingling or burning pain in the area of the skin where the rash later appears. In a small proportion of people this pain may become quite severe.

Within a few days or weeks, this area of pain will start to develop a red rash, which will turn into fluid-filled blisters. A few days after appearing, the blisters dry out and scabs form where the blisters have been. It usually takes 2-4 weeks for the rash to heal completely.

Most people recover but some people may experience long-term nerve pain that can remain for many months, or for a few people even years. Like shingles itself, the risk of nerve damage and developing long lasting nerve pain increases as you get older.

How do you catch shingles?

You don't "catch" shingles – it comes on when there's a reactivation of chickenpox virus that's already in your body. After you've recovered from chickenpox the varicella-zoster virus lies dormant in your nerve cells and can reactivate at a later stage when your immune system is weakened. Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles.

Is shingles serious?

Yes, it can be. Not only can shingles be very painful and uncomfortable, some people are left with long-lasting pain called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) for years after the initial rash has healed. Very occasionally, shingles can be fatal.