NHS Service

Why Should Older People Get the Shingles Vaccine?

Old woman taking shringle vaccine

As we get older, numerous health concerns may pop up for us – such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes, but does anyone give much thought to something such as shingles? Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash and sometimes blisters. Sadly, in older adults, it can also be much more dangerous and includes risks of serious complications such as stroke. Thankfully, shingles can be treated with medications and can be prevented with a vaccine. Touchwood Pharmacy offers the shingles vaccination at our vaccination clinics in Northampton, Sydenham and Ramsgate.

What are the symptoms of shingles?

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, a herpes zoster. Varicella-zoster is the same virus responsible for chickenpox. If you have ever had chicken pox in your life, this virus will continue to remain dormant in your body and if it becomes re-activated, it then will result in shingles.  

Typical symptoms of shingle include:

  • Burning or tingling sensation on the skin in one part of the body
  • An itchy rash
  • Fluid filled blisters
  • Skin sensitive to the touch
  • Fever, nausea, and headaches

The rash associated with the shingles virus usually appears as a band on one side of your body, likely the torso or the face. There is often pain felt in this area a few days or so before any blisters or skin irritations begin to appear and this pain will last after the rash has cleared up. 

Risk of Serious Complications

Most younger people who get shingles will see the virus resolve within a few weeks with low risk of few complications. However, for older adults, life threatening complications could persist even after the rash has cleared up.  

Here are some of the risks:

  • Post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN):  long term nerve pain in the area the rash first appears and according to studies, a major contributor to disability later in life.

  • Vision loss:  shingles near or in the eye can cause scarring or vision loss.

  • Stroke:  increased risk of stroke at least 6 months post shingles diagnosis. Risk increases 3x if shingles are in or around the eye.

  • Dementia:  shingles raises the risk of inflammation of arteries supplying blood to brain which increases chances of dementia

  • Death:  a very rare outcome, but shingles can lead to encephalitis or pneumonia which can lead to death. Older adults with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable.

The best way to protect yourself against the shingles as an older adult is to make sure you get vaccinated. Touchwood Pharmacy offers shingles vaccinations in Northampton, Ramsgate and Sydenham. Book your appointment online to receive your vaccination today.  www.touchwoodpharmacy.com