What Are Shingles Costing Us?

October 5, 2011

VaccineShingles rates have been consistently rising, and the most likely cause is the increasing use of the chicken pox vaccine. Normally, children with chicken pox re-enforce immunity in adults who have already had the disease, but as communities opt to vaccinate against chicken pox, shingles rates rise.

Studies estimate that there has been a 90% rise in shingles since the chicken pox vaccine first came on the market, and that the corresponding rise in shingles now costs those 60 and over about 700 million dollars yearly, as well as increased time in the hospital (where antibiotic resistant infections are a big risk for people with weakened immune systems!).

Of course, there’s now a shingles vaccine. But not everyone is comfortable with a vaccine for every problem, since vaccines contain preservatives like mercury and aluminum, and for a small percentage have worse side-effects than the disease.

About Shingles

What Is Shingles: Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. The virus never leaves the body, and can recur as shingles. Shingles is triggered by a weakened immune system, and most often occur in people over the age of 60, since the immune system weakens with age.

What are shingles?

“Shingles” refers to herpes blisters that appear in a clustered pattern most often along the face or torso. Unlike the blisters caused by chicken pox, which are more likely to itch, many people find that shingles blisters are painful. The pain of shingles blisters can be a lasting side-effect, which the shingles vaccine is reputed to reduce the rate of. Although it does not 100% prevent shingles, it’s supposed to make shingles symptoms less severe.

What Is Shingles Relationship To The Chickenpox Vaccine?

Besides a rise in shingles among the elderly, there have been reports that children experience shingles as a result of the chicken pox vaccine.

There are other unanswered questions about the chicken pox vaccine. Most vaccines do not confer life-long immunity, so how long does immunity to the varicella virus last? Will today’s children experience chicken pox when they are in college, when it’s more dangerous to their health (like measles)? Will tomorrow’s mothers be able to confer immunity to their at-risk newborns?

Whether or not you decide that vaccination is the right choice, it’s important to keep your immune system strong and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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