Can Shingles be Treated With a Vaccine

Shingles is viral infection which affects the nerve and the skin which along the route of the nerve; the results of the virus are nerve pain ranging from mild to severe and an irritating, itchy and often painful rash of blisters. The virus is caused by the herpes varicella-zoster virus which causes chickenpox and remains dormant in the sensory nervous system as a result. Reactivation of the virus is generally linked to a weakening of the immune system which can happen due to many reasons, common ones being, old age, stress and other medication which supresses the immune system.

With many of today’s viruses being treated and prevented with vaccinations, many people ask the question “can shingles be treated with a vaccine?” the unfortunate answer is no. One shingles has developed it must be left to run its course and the use of medication and treatments can be used to ease the symptoms and help with recovery. On some occasions it is possible that a vaccine can be used to prevent herpes varicella-zoster.

Vaccine to prevent herpes varicella-zoster

The answer to “can shingles be treated with a vaccine?” may be no but there are certain circumstances whereby a vaccination can be given to prevent shingles.

A varicella vaccination in the UK is currently provided to health workers that have not been previously exposed to chickenpox. The reason for this is so that health workers cannot pass or catch the condition from patients and spread it further. The vaccination has been in place for all National Health workers that do not have immunity from herpes varicella-zoster since 2005. It is not available on a population based practice and there are currently no plans in place to change this policy, this is despite results in the United States showing that a country wide vaccination for people between the ages of 50 and 59 has reduced cases of shingles by 55%.

Shingles medications and treatments

Now that the answer to “can shingles be treated with a vaccine?” has be determined as no, thoughts will turn to what can be used to treat the virus. There are many different methods of treatment that can be given to ease the symptoms of shingles and help to speed up recovery.

The most common form of treatment that is provided by a GP is painkilling medication; the type of painkiller given will depend on the severity of the pain. Mild symptoms of pain which are common in cases of shingles in younger people can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. If the pain is more prolonged and severe the use of a stronger painkiller such as an opioid, antidepressant or anticonvulsant can be prescribed.

The most common alternative to “can shingles be treated with a vaccine?” is the use of antiviral medication. This can be used to stop the virus from multiplying and ease symptoms of pain. When taken within the first 72 hours of the shingles rash appearing, antiviral drugs can dramatically reduce the severity of the condition and speed up recovery.




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