The Shingles Vaccine and Seniors

By Roger Hirchak, D.O., Vice President of Medical Services, Shell Point Retirement Community
People over the age of 60 are much more likely to get Shingles (herpes zoster) as their immune defense systems tend to weaken with age. Shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash brought on by the virus that causes chickenpox. The chicken pox virus lays dormant in certain nerve fibers and can reactivate with age or a weakened immune defense system.
It is estimated that one in three people will experience a case of shingles. Fortunately, there is a vaccine that can cut the risk of getting shingles by up to 70 percent. And for those who experience an outbreak of shingles after receiving the vaccine, their symptoms are much milder compared to someone who opted out of receiving the vaccine. Perhaps the most important thing to consider when it comes to getting vaccinated for shingles is that it will help reduce or eliminate a very uncomfortable disease that can last for a long time.

While there is not a specific time of year recommended for getting the shingles vaccine, it is believed that the vaccine can be effective for up to four years. As with any other medical treatment, there are people who should not receive the vaccine, including those with a history of Neomycin allergies or patients with an immune comprised state such as leukemia or lymphoma. As always, if you have questions, consult with your physician. They know what is best for each of their patients and understand the pros and cons of prevention and treatment options.

About Roger Hirchak, D.O., Medical Director, Shell Point Retirement Community

Roger Hirchak, D.O., has served as VP of Medical Services for Shell Point since 1998. Dr. Hirchak oversees the integrated healthcare delivery program of the Shell Point Health System including hospice, behavioral health, pharmacy services, two medical centers, physician services, and more. He is also the Medical Director of the Larsen Pavilion Skilled Nursing Center and serves as preceptor for third and fourth year students from Nova-Southeastern University and the University of Health Sciences in Kansas City.