The fact that shingles cases have increased in recent years has nothing to do with greater infectiousness. The increase in this pathology is associated with an aging population and an increase in the number of immunosuppressed people.
Shingles, also known as “shingles,” is caused by reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. After chickenpox subsides, the virus remains inactive and may later reactivate in a person.
Reappearance of the virus causes painful maculopapular vesicular eruptions (herpes zoster) affecting nerve courses (face, neck, chest, and lower back). These blisters turn into scabs in 7 to 10 days and disappear in 2 to 4 weeks.
In Argentina, at the end of March this year, ANMAT officially launched a new vaccine against shingles. The vaccine, called Shingrix, must be given every two to six months for people over 50.
What are the features of the new shingles vaccine?
The main property of the Shingrix vaccine is that it is an inactivated vaccine made from viral components. Therefore, since it does not contain live virus, it can be administered without contraindications to immunocompromised patients, and its placement is not contraindicated by a history of herpes zoster.
It can also be administered with other vaccines such as flu, pneumonia and hepatitis without any problems.
The vaccine is given in two doses, 2 to 6 months apart. The most common side effects of the shingles vaccine are:
– body pain
– Injection site tenderness, swelling, and itching
Despite greater than 90 percent efficacy in preventing shingles in clinical studies, people still contract the disease, which decreases in severity and duration despite vaccination. The vaccine also reduces the risk of postherpetic neuralgia, the most common and often disabling complication of shingles. Postherpetic neuralgia is characterized by pain that persists long after the shingles have subsided.
It is important that adult patients over the age of 50 receive a full vaccination schedule for influenza, COVID-19, hepatitis B, and tetanus. The shingles vaccine is currently added to these plans.
In this sense, different experts at the Infectious Diseases Service at the Allende Sanatorium recommend that adults be vaccinated in good time, since they, like immunocompromised patients, are among the groups most at risk of contracting the disease.
Dr Fernando Riera – Infection Services – Allende Nursing Home