Shingles and new vaccines available through Pharmacists:


Changes to the funding of certain vaccinations, mean that pharmacies that choose to, can now offer funded vaccinations for shingles, meningitis and human papillomavirus (HPV) to eligible people, making it easier to stay up to date with your vaccinations.

Meningococcal vaccines are approved if you are over 16-years and Gardasil (HPV vaccine) for everyone 9-26 years. Shingrix is approved to prevent shingles and its complications for all adults from 50-years but only funded at 65-years.


Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is a painful rash that occurs in 1 in 3 people and can lead to debilitating nerve pain (post-herpetic neuralgia). Shingrix reduces the risk of getting shingles by over 90% and is a non-live vaccine given in two doses, 2-6 months apart. If you had chickenpox before your 40th birthday, the virus will be dormant inside your body and as your immunity naturally weakens over time, the virus can reactivate, causing shingles.

Symptoms

The virus can reappear in people under stress, with poor immunity and often in those over 50-years. The first sign of shingles is usually a burning, tingling or sensitive feeling, followed by a red rash with fluid-filled blisters as a single stripe around one side of your torso. The blisters can be very painful and may burst and take some time to heal. Sometimes the pain lasts for many months after the skin has healed while the nerve recovers.  

Treatments

See your doctor as soon as you believe that you may have shingles. If diagnosed early, antiviral medicines can be prescribed to control the symptoms, ease the rash, minimise nerve damage and prevent the pain from lasting as long. Pain relief should also be taken early, this may be over-the-counter analgesics but if it’s severe, stronger medicines may be recommended. Creams are available to relieve pain, allowing you to top up with oral medicines as needed. Cover the rash to keep it clean and dry to reduce your risk of infections or the virus spreading.



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