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January 7

Shingles virus and Zostavax vaccination

In order to assist in shingles prevention, Onsite Health is now pleased to be able to offer Zostavax™ vaccinations to clients.

Zostavax™ is an injectable live virus vaccine for the prevention of shingles (herpes zoster) and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), and, the reduction of acute and chronic zoster-associated pain. A single dose of Zostavax™ is administered to healthy adults aged 50 years and older.

Zostavax™ can be administered at the same time as most other vaccinations – including a flu vaccination. Zostavax™ vaccine is generally well tolerated. Shingles is a viral infection that is also called herpes zoster. The first symptom of shingles is often a burning, sharp pain, tingling, or, numbness in (or under) the skin followed a few days later by a red rash and blisters. Shingles painful, blistering rash may result in scarring. Shingles affects 1 in 3 people during their lives, affecting males and females equally.

The blisters and pain or irritation from shingles usually goes away in 3 to 5 weeks. However, if the shingles virus damages a nerve, a person may have pain, numbness, or, tingling for months – or even years – after the rash has healed. This chronic condition is most likely to occur in people over 50 years old.

Shingles can strike at any time, but it is impossible to predict who will get shingles, how painful shingles will be, or, how long the pain from shingles will last. Shingles affects the nerves – causing pain that may be prolonged and disabling.

Shingles is caused by the same virus as the chickenpox (varicella zoster) virus. After a bout of chickenpox – and after the chickenpox blisters heal – the chickenpox virus lies dormant in a person’s body in the nerve cells located near the person’s spinal cord for the rest of a person’s life. The chickenpox virus (varicella zoster) can reactivate at a later stage in a person’s life as shingles (herpes zoster). Therefore, anyone who has previously had chickenpox can go on later in life to develop shingles.

1 in 4 people experience complications from shingles. Pain that lasts after the rash has healed is called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN – with pain lasting for 90 days or more – is the most common complication of shingles. With older age, shingles pain can be significantly disabling. In one study, shingles pain was rated as being worse than renal colic and labour pain, and, PHN pain was rated as one of the most severe of the chronic pains.

For those unfortunate enough to contract shingles while still in the workforce, taking time off work to get over the debilitating pain shingles causes is reasonably common.

As shingles is caused by a virus and cannot be cured by antibiotics, shingles treatment focuses on relieving symptoms.

Contact Onsite Health now on 0800 357 357 to discuss whether Zostavax™ vaccinations are appropriate for your staff.

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