Health Watch — Senior Issues: Shingles

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’ve been talking about health issues older adults may face. A childhood disease could come back to haunt seniors, but a new vaccine may help avoid that. The same virus that causes chicken pox also may reactivate later in life to cause shingles, a blistering skin rash that affects older adults.

The new vaccine helps prevent shingles outbreaks by boosting immunity so the chicken pox virus isn’t reactivated. Dr. Craig Rubin, chairman of geriatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the vaccine is approved for people older than 60, but it isn’t known yet how well it works in people over 80 or how long it remains effective. Dr. Rubin says if you’ve recently had an attack of shingles, you should talk to your doctor about whether or not you need the vaccine.



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May 2007

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