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Shingles Vaccines at Your Pharmacy
Getting shingles is no laughing matter. Adults who get shingles which is caused by the Herpes zoster virus, can end up with a myriad of symptoms and permanent damage to their body. As a pharmacist, you can help spread awareness with shingles vaccine campaigns, and administer the vaccine yourself at your pharmacy.
Most people are familiar with chickenpox and many had them as a child. When this happens, the virus remains dormant in the body for years, sometimes never reappearing at all. When it does reactivate, this is called shingles. It is estimated over 1 million people get shingles every year in the United States alone. The risks posed by getting shingles increases as people age, making older people far more susceptible and therefore far more in need of the shingles vaccine. The virus tends to impact people with weakened immune systems more adversely, but can affect anyone, causing painful rashes, complications with other ailments, and even cause vision loss and facial paralysis.
The older shingles vaccine which was approved in 2006 and named Zostavax is no longer available in the United States. Zostavax was a live attenuated vaccine and because of the nature of that kind of vaccine, was not recommend for immunocompromised people and had more possible effects for anyone. Since 2017, a new recombinant adjuvanted shingles vaccine called Shingrix was approved by the FDA and is safe for immunocompromised people. While there can be adverse effects at the site of the injection, these typically only last a couple days and are usually just minor pain, redness, and swelling. Some people with allergies to the ingredients can have reactions including hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness.
The efficacy of Shingrix is excellent—97% effective in healthy adults and 68-91% for adults with weakened immune systems. The immunity it provides lasts for at least seven years after receiving the vaccine. Customers, especially some from certain communities, may be unaware of Shingrix, or suspicious of vaccines in general. By engaging with customers about the benefits of the newer vaccine, you can help educate and protect adults from shingles. Read more at pharmacytimes.com