The Importance of Getting a Shingles Vaccine: Protecting Yourself and Others

Updated on February 17, 2023 by

Woman Touching Her Shoulder After Getting A Shingles Vaccine

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Shingles is one of the lesser-known infectious diseases whose progression can cause a sheer amount of discomfort, pain, and cosmetic issues. Complications from this viral disease can be extremely devastating and life-altering.

Thankfully, all you may need to protect yourself (and others) from the excruciating pain and complications is to get vaccinated against the disease.

Read on to learn about how getting a shingles vaccine can help protect you and your loved ones from shingles.


What Are Shingles And What Causes It?


Shingles is a painful skin condition caused by varicella-zoster, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Also known as Herpes Zoster, the condition is associated with a classical rash that mostly affects one side of the body, especially the arm, back, and neck – in a pattern that seems to run along with the nerves underneath the affected area.

Zoster Blisters On Neck And Shoulder.

Zoster blisters on the neck and shoulder (attribute. J. Pozniak)

The rash is usually extremely painful and forms blisters over time, which in turn pop to release a characteristic fluid. It is also important to note that Shingles hardly affect anyone that hasn’t had chickenpox before.

It is the same virus that reactivates after years of dormancy to cause shingles, but getting vaccinated can help prevent it. If you’ve had chickenpox before in life, it’s all the more reason to book a shingles vaccine appointment with your nearest health provider.


Is Shingles Contagious Spread?


Indeed, shingles can be passed on from one person to the other, meaning that it is contagious. One of the most common ways Shingles is spread to others is through direct contact with fluids from the blisters of someone with the disease.

Unvaccinated people or those who’ve not had chickenpox before are often more at risk of catching shingles or chickenpox through this method. This is to say that Shingles is not always contagious, and cannot be spread through casual contact such as touching or being in the same room with an infected person.


Why Getting a Shingles Vaccine Is Important


Needless to reiterate, getting a shingles vaccine is one of the best ways to protect yourself and other vulnerable people from developing shingles (or chicken pox). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a vaccine like Shingrix is effective by as much as 90% in reducing the risk of developing shingles. Moreover, getting a shingles vaccine can help reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms if you do develop shingles.

Vaccination also goes a long way in reducing the risk of complications like nerve damage, scarring, postherpetic neuralgia (chronic pain in the affected area), vision loss, and hearing problems. By getting vaccinated, you’ll also be protecting others who cannot get the vaccine due to weakened immune systems, age, and other factors.

Moreover, the shingles vaccine is a single-dose injection, although two doses may be recommended for those over age 60.

In a nutshell, getting vaccinated can help protect you from:

  • Catching shingles;
  • Becoming seriously ill if you do develop shingles;
  • Spreading the virus to vulnerable people – like unborn babies or elders with weakened immune systems.


Other Ways to Protect Those around You


If you do have shingles, there are a few ways to prevent spreading the virus to others around you. For instance, covering the blisters with a dressing or clothing can help prevent viral shedding, which simply refers to the release of virus particles from your rash/blisters to the environment.

While it’s nothing close to the Covid-19 proper self-isolation recommendations, it’s also important to avoid contact with the people around you when you have shingles, particularly those who are at risk of severe illness from the virus as mentioned above.

As much as it’s a bit uncommon and not particularly life-threatening, shingles can be an extremely painful and uncomfortable condition for anyone to deal with. Getting a shingles vaccine is one of the surest ways to protect yourself and others from the disease and its complications. If you’re worried that you might have shingles, it’s important to seek attention from your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

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