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Are you fully immunised?

World Immunisation Week occurs in the last week of April but we should be thinking about immunisations all year round. So let’s take a moment to reflect on our immunisation status and if we need to update our vaccinations. Vaccinations have been shown over time to be quite effective in modern medicine to prevent diseases and their complications. They are not only about protecting ourselves but safeguarding the matters that matter most to us. One vaccination to consider is Shingrex- a new vaccination against herpes zoster. It is available on the National Immunisation schedule for people over the age of 65yo.


Herpes zoster is caused by a reactivation of the Varicella Zoster vaccine. The same one responsible for chickenpox, so we’ve probably all been exposed at some stage in our life. After the initial infection of chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in nerve tissues with a potential to reactivate later in life known as shingles. This painful condition manifests as a rash often accompanied by intense nerve pain. Often this subsides after the initial infection but if it continues, then it is labelled post herpetic neuralgia. This pain will persist for the rest of people’s lives severely affecting their quality of life.


Shingrix is fantastic in decreasing the rate of post herpetic neuralgia which can be life altering and debilitating, condition. Post herpetic neuralgia can occur in people after an episode of shingles. Unfortunately, modern medicine does not have effective medications to combat this long-lasting pain.


Shingrix is a recombinant vaccine meaning it has a purified component of the virus and is not live virus itself. This is superior to the previous vaccination available called Zostavax. One of the most significant advantages of Shingrix is its long-lasting immunity. Studies have shown efficacy of at least 90% for up to seven years, indicating it is well worth thinking about. Older people have an increased risk of developing shingles.


Let’s celebrate the scientific marvels that vaccines represent but also embrace our opportunity to live healthier, more fulfilling lives without pain.