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Vaccination against shingles makes sense for these people
The Standing Vaccination Committee at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) advises all people aged 60 and over to be vaccinated against shingles. People who are immunodeficient or have basic illnesses should be vaccinated from the age of 50. As the institute reports, the disease can lead to serious complications such as nerve pain, which can last for months to years and severely reduce the quality of life of those affected.
Shingles, also medically called herpes zoster, is a disease that is triggered by the varicella zoster virus. As the experts at the RKI report, most people come into contact with the viruses from childhood. These initially trigger the infectious disease chickenpox (varicella). After the disease has subsided, the viruses remain in the host's nerve cells for a lifetime and can trigger shingles at a later point in time. "The Standing Vaccination Committee recommends that people from the age of 60 receive a shingles vaccine with a so-called dead vaccine as the standard vaccination," the RKI experts wrote in a press release.
Shingles can cause nerve pain for years
Typical for herpes zoster are the burning pain, which is accompanied by a mostly half-sided, band-like itchy rash with blistering, mainly in the trunk or chest area. According to the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, around 300,000 people in Germany develop shingles every year. According to the RKI, about every twentieth sufferer develops serious complications that leave long-lasting neuralgia. This nerve pain can significantly reduce the quality of life of those affected for months to years.
Shingles often occurs in the elderly and immunodeficient
According to the RKI, older people and patients with a weakened immune system are most often affected. That is why the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) recommends vaccination for people with an underlying illness from 50 years of age. Currently shingles vaccination is not yet a compulsory benefit of the statutory health insurance companies. However, the Federal Joint Committee will soon decide on inclusion in the vaccination directive.
New vaccine makes vaccination safer
"In Germany, two herpes zoster vaccines are approved for people aged 50 and over, a live vaccine since 2013 and a dead vaccine since 2018," reports the RKI. However, STIKO advises against the live vaccine, as it can only demonstrate a limited effectiveness and a limited duration of action. He was also unsuitable for immunodeficient people. In contrast, the herpes zoster vaccine, which has been available since 2018, is safe. In approval studies, there would have been no signals of serious side effects. However, systemic reactions such as muscle pain, fever, fatigue and headache can occur, which usually do not last longer than two days. (vb)