Have Shingles, How Does The Vaccination Prevent From Getting Shingles?
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Thank you for sending in your query.
I will answer your questions one by one:
1) Shingles (also called as herpes zoster) is caused due to a virus called as Varicella zoster virus.
The first attack by this virus causes chickenpox.
After the first attack the virus remains dormant ("asleep") in the body.
In patients whose body immunity is low for any reason ( for example in patients who are on anti rejection pills following a kidney transplant) this virus can get reactivated and cause shingles.
The vaccine consists of a special form of virus (called in medical terms as a live attenuated virus) which has very low infectivity but can help in building up body's immunity against the native zoster virus.
Thus it reduces the risk of disease in the vaccinated individuals significantly. Also if you are vaccinated and develop the disease, then the manifestations are less severe than a non vaccinated patient.
2) Use in hemodialysis patients: This vaccine can be given to patients on dialysis. This is especially true if you are planning for a kidney transplant in the future. However let me tell you that the immune response in patients with kidney disease is not very predictable as compared to the general population.
3) If you have had chickenpox previously, you have developed immunity to the virus that causes shingles. However, this immunity declines over time. So even if you had chickenpox as a child, I would recommend that you should take the vaccine.
On the other hand if you had shingles recently then there is little role for vaccination. Your body would have developed immunity to the virus.
However if the immunity drops for any reason then there is always a chance of reactivation.
1) If you had recent shingles: not much role of vaccination.
2) If you did not have an episode of shingles; go ahead and take the vaccine irrespective of whether you had chickenpox as a child.
I hope this was helpful.
Feel free to contact me if you have more quesions.
Dr. Aditya Bhabhe