Herpes-zoster (Shingles) is a painful blistering rash caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus – the same virus that causes chickenpox. The shingles rash occurs when the dormant chickenpox virus is reactivated in the nerve tissue, causing inflammation of the nerves. Sometimes pain in the affected region can be severe and prolonged. Once you have had chickenpox, the virus can stay in your nervous system for many years. For reasons that are not fully understood, the virus may become active again and give you shingles. Shingles can spread through direct contact with an uncovered rash. 1 in 3 people will develop shingles in their lifetime. As a person gets older, the risk of getting shingles increases.
Initial symptoms of shingles can include headache, fever, flu like symptoms and malaise (general feeling of uneasiness). A stinging or burning sensation may appear on the affected area before the appearance of the skin rash (normally within 1-2 days of the initial symptoms). The rash is commonly on the trunk or body but can also appear on the face or other parts of the body and can be quite painful, causing a tingling or burning sensation
Shingles is a vaccine preventable disease. Immunisation against shingles is achieved by a dose of the Zostavax® vaccine which can be given to adults 50 years and over. The National Shingles Vaccination Program is providing free vaccines for people aged 70 years under the National Immunisation Program. There is also a five year catch-up program for people aged 71 – 79 years until 31 October 2021.
To receive the immunisation visit your local doctor or vaccination provider
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