Free vaccine for at-risk group
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.