Because shingles is a painful disorder and in some cases leads to post herpetic neuralgia, preventive methods have been developed. The only way to prevent shingles is vaccination. The two currently available vaccines are the chicken pox vaccine and the varicella zoster vaccine.
The chicken pox virus has now been available for many years and is routinely used to prevent chicken pox. The vaccine is used fir children between the ages of 12-18 months. In some cases, the vaccine has also been used to vaccinate older children and adults who have never had chickpea pox.
Despite the chicken pox vaccine, there are a certain number of individuals who will both develop chicken pox and shingles the vaccine is not 100% protective, but it can reduce the chances of you developing the complications of the disorder. Some studies indicate that the severity of chicken pox and shingles is also decreased with the vaccine.
Over the last decade, we have also had the varicella-zoster vaccine (Zostavax) to prevent shingles. The vaccine is generally used for the older individuals who have already had chicken pox. However, it is also not 100% effective and some individuals do develop shingles despite getting the vaccine. However, just like the chicken pox vaccine, the shingles vaccine can also reduce the complications and severity of the disorder.
Current literature indicates the number of individuals who acquire post herpetic neuralgia is also significantly less after vaccination.
The shingles vaccine is administer as an IM injection. The vaccine is only used to prevent shingles and does nothing for individuals who have developed shingles.
The side effects of the shingles vaccine include:
Not everyone is a candidate for the shingles vaccine. The vaccine is not intended for you if you have
Allergy: a history of allergy to protein and antibiotics is a definite contraindication to the vaccine
Immunosuppressed: if your immune system is suppressed, the vaccine is not for you
HIV/AIDs: those individuals with HIV/AIDs are not candidates for the vaccine
Medication: Those individuals on corticosteroids or other immunosuppressants should not get the vaccine
Radiation: individuals receiving radiation therapy should avoid the vaccine
Tuberculosis: Individuals with active TB should not receive the vaccine
For those individuals who have had a recent cold or an upper respiratory tract infection or have fever, vaccination should be delayed until the symptoms subside
Vitamins: There are some who advocate large doses of multivitamins like A, C, E and B to help prevent shingles.
Diet: A diet high in fruits and vegetables has also been advocated as a means of preventing the shingles infection.