WESTFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — This is the time of year when people are protecting themselves against the flu by getting flu shots, but there are other vaccines doctors are recommending, including one for shingles.
Shingles is a painful skin rash, often with blisters, that’s caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox.
The first sign of shingles is often burning or tingling pain, or sometimes numbness or itch on one side of the body. After a few days, a rash develops.
Dr. Jacques Blanchet is Chief of the Emergency Department at Noble Hospital. He says, “Usually, people who get shingles have had chicken pox when they were young, but it doesn’t matter whether you’ve had chicken pox or not. It is recommended for people over 50.”
Dr. Blanchet adds the shingles can be very painful.
“The virus settles in a nerve and it affects the part of the body and it creates some vesicles that are very painful and it can leave some people with permanent pain,” Blanchet explains.
Dr. Blanchet notes that the shingles shot can be a big help. “It really makes a difference, cuts down the number of occurrences of shingles in the first place and if somebody happens to get shingles, it decreases their risk of complications.”
Dr. Blanchet also says even though you may have had shingles, you can get shingles again, so he would recommend getting the shot after your shingles episode is over.
Besides getting a flu shot, or a shingles shot, Dr. Blanchet also recommends a pneumonia shot for those over 60 – with one caveat.
“If you get a pneumonia shot, a vaccine, you shouldn’t get the vaccine for shingles within a four-month period of receiving the pneumonia vaccine.”
That’s because the shingles and pneumonia shots are live vaccines.
Dr. Blanchet does say the vaccine isn’t for everyone. If you have any doubts about getting the shot, you should contact your doctor.