Shingles vaccine cuts odds of seniors getting the virus in half

Lisa Wurth

January 31, 2012

Shingles vaccine cuts odds of seniors getting the virus in halfMany older adults probably remember having the chicken pox when they were younger, some may even have scars from the itchy red bumps. Most might assume that after one case of the problem, a person will never get it again. However, the virus stays dormant in the body and sometimes reappears in people age 50 older, though it's referred to as shingles later in life, the Bradenton Herald reports.

According to the National Institute of Health, up to 25 percent of adults older than 50 experience shingles, and people over 70 who develop it tend to suffer more painful and serious outbreaks. The blistering rash can stay inflamed for a few weeks, months or even years.

Although there is no way to tell if a person will get shingles later in life, those considered to be at risk are now able to get a vaccine to ward the illness off. The news outlet reports that in the past, the vaccination was only available for people age 60 and older, though now the Food and Drug Administration has dropped the minimum age to 50. The vaccine is known to prevent 50 percent of shingles cases.

Seniors living alone who are suffering from shingles may find the condition painful and sometimes unbearable. When an elder person is distracted by the disease, it may be easier for them to suffer a fall or another emergency. Those living alone might benefit from a senior alert system, as this wearable device allows a person to call for help in an instant.

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