Almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles, also known as zoster or herpes zoster, in their lifetime. There are an estimated 1 million cases of shingles each year in our country. Shingles is most common in people ages 50 and older and those whose immune system is weakened because of a disease such as cancer, or by drugs such as steroids or chemotherapy.
You cannot catch shingles from another person. If you have had chickenpox, the virus stays in your body and can cause shingles later in life. A person who has never had chickenpox (or chickenpox vaccine) can get chickenpox from someone with shingles. A shingles rash is usually accompanied by severe pain, often with blisters. Other symptoms can include fever, headache, chills and upset stomach.
The new Shingrix vaccine, available at Watkins Health Services, provides strong protection against shingles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend two doses, 2 to 6 months apart, for healthy adults 50 and older. In clinical trials, it was more than 90% effective in preventing shingles. Shingrix is also recommended for people who have already had the lesser effective Zostavax vaccine.
Current KU faculty and staff as well as employees of KU affiliated corporations may receive the Shingrix vaccine at the Faculty/Staff Immediate Care Clinic. To schedule an appointment or speak with a nurse, call 785-864-9565. In many cases, the vaccine is covered in full as an age-appropriate preventive service. We recommend contacting your insurance plan in advance to be sure.
For more information on the Shingrix vaccine, see the CDC’s Vaccine Information Statement.