Heartbeat : A New Shingles Vaccine

LUBBOCK, TX - In the last few months, a new vaccine for shingles has been released. Medical Director for Covenant Northwest Medical Clinic, Dr. Stan Garrett, explained what shingles is and why the vaccine can be helpful.

"Shingles is a reactivation of the chicken pox virus," Dr. Garrett said.

He added shingles can be painful and they don't know exactly why it happens.

"How you get it is, is you had to have chicken pox when you were young," he said. 

"It may lay there the rest of your life, never reactivate," Dr. Garret said. "Other reasons, we don't know why, whether it's stress, other illnesses, it'll decide to reactivate and whatever nerve area that's it's lying dormant in, will suddenly be the nerve root that will be affected." 

He said people usually only get shingles on half of their body and it could start with some pain. 

"Then all of the sudden, they'll develop little red bumps that will develop blisters on it, and that's very painful," Dr. Garrett said. "Often times if you come in early, we can treat it and it can dry up quicker, reduce your risk of continued pain. Probably the worst part of shingles is what we call post-traumatic neuralgia. That's where even though you clear up the rash, the pain persists."

"Usually if you have pain that's severe, the skin's sensitive, or your skin breaks out in little red bumps or blisters, that's time to see your doctor," he added.

A new vaccine was released in the last few months.

"There is a newer vaccine that is called recombinant, that is much more effective than the original vaccine," Dr. Garret said. 

He added this new vaccine takes two does. "It has anywhere from 80 to 90% efficacy to prevent shingles."

Dr. Garrett said shingles is more common in people 65 years and older and more common in people with chronic diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, diabetes, emphysema or cancer.

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