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Dear Doctor: Do I Need the Shingles Vaccine?

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Dear Doctor:

I have been hearing a lot about shingles recently. Do I need the shingles vaccine?

Dear Reader:

I recommend all of my patients over the age of 50 be vaccinated for shingles. As one who experienced shingles in the past, I would gladly have accepted the vaccination had one been available to avoid the misery of shingles. The vaccine is 95-97 percent effective, and some patients might need to get it earlier than age 50.

If you had the chicken pox as a child, then your body harbors the virus that may one day turn into shingles, which is a very painful skin condition that can last for weeks or months. Younger generations who have had the chicken pox vaccination will not need the shingles vaccine since this virus is not present in their bodies.

Shingles can affect various parts of the body and can even affect the face and damage the eyes.

The shingles vaccine may not be covered by your insurance. Talk to your physician about when you should take the shingles shot. And no, shingles is not contagious if you have had the chicken pox virus or vaccine.

So do yourself a favor and don’t hesitate, vaccinate.

Dr. Thomas Murphy is the Assistant Dean of the Medical School at UT Health and Chief Medical Officer UT Physician community based clinics.  For information or to schedule an appointment with a doctor at UT Physicians Cinco Ranch, call 713-486-5300, UTPhysicians.com/cinco-ranch/.

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