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Vaccinations and Immunizations

Strengthen Your Defenses; Get Vaccinated

Why Vaccinations Are Important

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), every year thousands of adults in the U.S. become seriously ill and are hospitalized because of diseases that vaccines can help prevent. Many adults even die from these diseases. By getting vaccinated, you can help protect yourself from much of this unnecessary suffering.

Even if you received the vaccines you needed as a child, the protection from some vaccines can wear off.

Vaccines are tested and monitored. Vaccines go through years of testing before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licenses them for use. Both the CDC and FDA continue to track  the safety of all licensed vaccines.

Vaccines are one of the safest ways to protect your health. Talk with your provider about the vaccines you and your family should safely receive based on your health or other conditions.

Shingles Virus May Be In Your System

If you had chickenpox at some point in your life, the virus that causes shingles is already in your body’s system.

St. Lawrence Health wants you to be aware that years after having chickenpox, the varicella zoster virus that causes it and has been lying dormant inside you, may reactivate as shingles, unless you are vaccinated.

Shingles is a painful rash that usually develops on one side of the body, often the face or torso. The rash consists of blisters that typically scab over in seven to 10 days and clears up within two to four weeks. Some people describe the pain as an intense burning sensation, and for the unfortunate, the pain can last for months or even years after the rash goes away. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles Shingrix vaccine separated by two to six months. Adults 19 years and older who have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses of Shingrix, as they have a higher risk of getting shingles and related complications.

For individuals who have had shingles in the past, Shingrix can help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time people need to wait after having shingles before receiving the vaccine; however, the shingles rash should be gone away before getting vaccinated.

A person with shingles can pass the varicella-zoster virus to anyone who is not immune to chickenpox; resulting in the newly infected person developing chickenpox, not shingles.

While the more common form of shingles appears as the outward rash, it can be much more complicated for individuals who develop “internal shingles” or systemic shingles. Body systems that can be affected include the eyes, nervous system, lungs, liver, or brain. Internal shingles can cause symptoms such as persistent pain, fever, cough, abdominal pain, and headache.

Talk with your St. Lawrence Health primary care provider, or find one online about how a shingles vaccine may assist in preventing you from contracting the disease if you already had chickenpox. The CDC website is also a good source for more information about shingles.