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Q: What is Zostavax®?

Posted July 16, 2014 in Advice Column, Grimes

A: Zostavax® is a vaccine that is given to patients usually older than 50 to prevent shingles. Zostavax® decreases the chance of a patient getting shingles by about half. If you end up getting shingles, Zostavax® will decrease the severity of the symptoms. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you have had chickenpox, the virus that caused it stays in your body. As you get older, the virus can reactivate and cause shingles. Often shingles starts with pain, tingling or itching. and then later develops into blisters, which can be very painful. Although many people think shingles is just a rash, it can lead to serious problems. Shingles can lead to severe complications such as paralysis on one side of the face, permanent vision loss, hearing loss, scarring and long-term nerve pain.

It is important to note that this vaccine does not treat shingles. Zostavax® is a single injection that can lead to side effects including injection site reactions such as redness, swelling and itching and it may cause a headache. Talk to your physician to see if Zostavax® is right for you. If you have any questions, or would like to set up an appointment to get the injection, please give us a call.

Information provided by Lena Mullins, Pharm D., Hy-Vee Drugstore, 1541 S.E. Third St., Suite 100, 986-4527.

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