Free vac­cine for at-risk group

Midwest Times - - NEWS -

Mid West res­i­dents aged 70 to 79 are be­ing en­cour­aged to take ad­van­tage of a free shin­gles vac­ci­na­tion avail­able through GPs, Abo­rig­i­nal health ser­vices and com­mu­nity vac­ci­na­tion providers.

WA Coun­try Health Ser­vice is ad­vis­ing peo­ple to pro­tect them­selves from the in­fec­tion and the of­ten painful nerve com­pli­ca­tions that can fol­low some shin­gles in­fec­tions.

WACHS Mid West public health nurse Lyn Sy­monds said shin­gles was a painful, blis­ter­ing rash that usu­ally hap­pened on one side of the body.

“Shin­gles is a re­ac­ti­va­tion of the vari­cella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chick­en­pox, and it can have se­ri­ous and painful com­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing nerve pain,” she said.

“It is es­ti­mated that one in three peo­ple will de­velop shin­gles in their life­time. As a per­son gets older, the risk of get­ting shin­gles and nerve com­pli­ca­tions in­creases.”

Peo­ple in their 70s are at great­est risk of de­vel­op­ing a se­ri­ous, painful com­pli­ca­tion from shin­gles, known as post-her­petic neu­ral­gia, in which the per­son ex­pe­ri­ences pain in the area af­fected by shin­gles for a long pe­riod, some­times months or years.

Ms Sy­monds said the vac­cine pro­tects against shin­gles and PHN and is avail­able free un­til 2021.

The shin­gles vac­cine is safe for peo­ple with chronic dis­eases, although some with a weak­ened im­mune sys­tem may be un­able to have the jab. It is de­liv­ered as a sin­gle dose. Any­one over the age of 50 and not el­i­gi­ble for the free vac­cine can dis­cuss the op­tion of a pri­vate pre­scrip­tion with their GP. For more in­for­ma­tion, call the Mid­west Public Health Unit on 9956 1978.

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