Senior Health Channel
Topics & Medications
Quicklinks
Related Channels

Shots for Seniors

Shots for Seniors: The Chickenpox Vaccine
Chickenpox -- also known as varicella -- is a highly contagious disease that is caused by a virus (the varicella-zoster virus). Chickenpox is spread easily through the air by infected people when they sneeze or cough. Chickenpox transmission also occurs through contact with an infected person's chickenpox sores. People who have never had chickenpox can get infected just by being in the room with someone who has the disease.
 
While chickenpox is a mild disease for children, adults usually get much sicker. Early symptoms of chickenpox include aching, tiredness, fever, and sore throat. Then an itchy, blister-like rash appears.
 
People who have had chickenpox are protected from getting it again. A vaccine is available to protect people who have not had the disease. Two doses of the vaccine are recommended for people 13 years of age and older. Most people who get the chickenpox vaccine don't have problems with it. The most common side effects are mild, and include pain and swelling on the arm where the shot was given. Fever or a mild rash may also develop.
 
Shots for Seniors: The Shingles Vaccine
Some people who have had chickenpox may develop shingles later in life. Shingles is caused by a reactivation of the same virus that produces chickenpox. The two most common symptoms include a shingles rash and shingles pain. But symptoms will vary among people. For some people, shingles symptoms can be mild; for others, especially in older adults, symptoms can be debilitating.
 
Just as there is no cure for chickenpox, there is no cure for shingles. There are, however, medicines (known as antivirals) that can shorten the length and severity of shingles.
 
A shingle vaccine is also available. Sold under the name Zostavax®, it is recommended for people 60 years of age and older who have had chickenpox but who have not had shingles.
 
Shingles research scientists estimate that the vaccine could prevent 250,000 cases of shingles that occur in the United States each year and significantly reduce the severity of the disease in another 250,000 cases annually.
 
In clinical trials, the shingles vaccine prevented the disease in about half of the people over the age of 60. It was more effective in people between the ages of 60 and 69 than in older groups. For example, in people ages 60 to 69, about 70 percent did not develop shingles. In people between the ages of 70 and 70, about 40 percent did not develop the disease. The effects of the shingles vaccine were studied for only four years. Therefore, its ability to prevent the disease beyond four years is not known.
Warning: 10 Hidden Sources of Lactose

Senior Health and Fitness

Terms of Use
Advertise with Us
Contact Us
About eMedTV
Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2006-2017 Clinaero, Inc.
eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.