The Shingles Vaccine for Men & WOMEN Over 50
by Dr. Bruce Figoten
Shingles is a virus known as herpes zoster. It is a form of the chickenpox virus (varicella). Therefore, those that have had chickenpox are susceptible to getting shingles at some time in their lives. The varicella virus can stay in your body for many years and later return as shingles. This can happen at any time, though the risk goes up with age. About half of the people who get shingles are older than 60. Also, those who have weakened immune systems are also more likely to get it.
There are many reasons your immune system is lowered. There are diseases, like HIV/AIDS and cancer for instance, that lower your immune system. Many conditions these days are treated with immunosuppressive drugs. These drugs will weaken your immune system. Therefore, it is advisable to check with your physician before getting this vaccine. It is estimated about 1 million people a year contract shingles. The vaccine is recommended for people 60 or older, but it’s approved for people as young as 50.
If you don’t know whether you have had chicken pox, check with your physician. There’s a good chance you did have chickenpox as a child and don’t remember. Studies have shown that 99% of Americans over 40 had chickenpox at some point in their lives.
Unlike with chickenpox, you can get shingles more than once. Therefore, getting vaccinated will lower your chances of getting it again. The vaccine lowers your chances of getting shingles by as much as 51%. It also lowers the risk of shingles-related nerve damage by 67%. That means even if you do end up getting shingles, the vaccine could help you dodge the most serious complications.
There are some side effects, but rarely occur. The most common ones are redness, pain or tenderness, swelling and itchiness. Besides the medical conditions listed above, you should not get this vaccine if you are allergic to gelatin or neomycin (an antibiotic).
You can get the vaccine at most pharmacies or at your doctor’s office. If you have Medicare it will be free.
According to the CDC, "one out of every three people 60 years and older will get shingles, and older adults are more likely to develop severe pain from shingles that can last for months or even years."
For anyone over the age of 50, men and women, it is certainly well worth the time and effort to get this vaccination and dramatically reduce your chances of suffering from this painful condition. "Don't Wait. Vaccinate!"
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Dr. Bruce Figoten is a long-time member of the MCLA Sacred Path family and has been a Wisdom Council member, tribe leader and valued mentor to other men on the mountain for over 17 years. His expertise and background as a chiropractic doctor and college pharmacy professor have been supplemented by real-life physical and emotional challenges he’s overcome himself including divorce, open heart surgery, diabetes and sleep apnea.
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Dr. Bruce Figoten and Dr. Michael Lewis head up a team of MCLA men’s health professionals who facilitate a special panel discussion at each Sacred Path men’s retreat dealing specifically with men’s health issues and solutions for male health challenges. No topic is off-limits. Our next Sacred Path Men’s Retreat on the mountain will be held Saturday, May 7, 2016.
Make plans to join to us.