Vaccination can help increase the health and wellbeing of older people. Shingles can be a terrible condition, yet it can be avoided. I encourage you to speak to your doctor about the Shingles vaccine
– Professor Charles Guest, Victoria's Chief Health Officer
As we age our bodies defence systems can become less effective at protecting us against disease. For this reason, immunisation is recommended, and in some cases provided free to older adults.
It is important to check your immunisation status, and the Immunisation HALO which looks at your Health, Age, Lifestyle and Occupation profile, can be a useful guide to take along to your health professional.
We all have unique immunisation needs, so talk to your doctor for personal advice. To help start the conversation, check out the vaccines recommended for you dependant on your Health, Age, Lifestyle and Occupation (HALO).
Immunisation is a proven and safe way to be protected against diseases that cause serious illness and sometimes death. Every day, immunisation saves lives and makes it possible for Victorians to live free from the illness and the disability caused by many vaccine-preventable diseases.
Aside from the influenza vaccination, another example is the shingles vaccination.
You may recall having chickenpox as a child, but did you know that anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles later in life?
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). After you recover from chickenpox, the virus continues to live in some of your nerve cells.
Medical science doesn't really know what triggers reactivation of the virus which usually starts with tender painful skin signals then results in a painful blistering rash on one side of the body along a nerve pathway, called shingles. It can cause burning, shooting pain, tingling, and itching, and may affect any part of the body, including the face.
Virus from the blistering rash can be transmitted by touch to someone with no immunity to chickenpox, like a baby, or someone who is immunocompromised. The person may then develop chickenpox disease.
We do know that older people are more susceptible to shingles as they age due to a natural decline of their immune system.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Charles Guest says:
It is important for anyone over the age of 50 to know that they might develop shingles, and the older they get the more the risk increases.
About 20 to 30 per cent of people will suffer from shingles in their lifetime, most after the age of 50 years. Sometimes pain in the affected area can be severe and prolonged. When it lasts more than three months it is called post herpetic neuralgia. Other complications include scarring, skin infections, loss of vision or hearing, pneumonia and neurological complications.
You can protect yourself. A free vaccine to protect against shingles is available to Medicare card holders aged 70-79 years.
Check your immunisation HALO
Immunisation is a proven and safe way to be protected against diseases that cause serious illness and sometimes death.
Check your immunisation HALO brochure
Not sure if you or someone you care for needs an immunisation?
What immunisations you need depends on your Health, Age, Lifestyle, Occupation (HALO).
You can use this brochure as a guide to talk to your doctor or immunisation provider.