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Have you heard of shingles?

Many of us went through the experience of our parents bringing us to the clinic, reluctantly or not, to obtain our chicken pox vaccines to prevent us from getting infected. As we grew older, we became less concerned as we thought we were past the age of getting chicken pox. What we do not know is that the same virus that gives us chickenpox can reactivate in our later years and can give us shingles, also known as Herpes Zoster Virus or simply zoster.

This viral infection usually starts as a rash with blisters that scab after 3 to 5 days, with pain being the most frequently mentioned symptom. Even after the rash clears up, severe pain can still be experienced, resulting in post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) – the most common complication for zoster – which can last for months or even years. Older adults and people with weak immune systems are at a greater risk of getting Herpes Zoster and PHN, and about one in three people who have had chicken pox will suffer from shingles.HPIM1945-2

Fortunately, just as we have vaccines for chicken pox, there is also a vaccine available for shingles. However, due to a lack of awareness, many people get infected even before finding out what shingles is or that there are vaccines available.

Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), in partnership with FriendlyCare, held a lecture in the Shaw Clinic on July 29, 2015. Speaking to an audience of doctors, nurses, and staff members, guest speaker Dr. Edcel Salvana expounded on the importance of vaccines and adult vaccinations, and the vital role doctors play in increasing patient awareness. He also explained what shingles is and introduced Zostavax, a live vaccine that prevents Herpes Zoster and PHN. Since Zostavax is relatively new in the country, Dr. Salvana encouraged them to inform their patients of its use and availability, and to vaccinate their patients, especially those with greater risks of getting infected

Dr. Salvana ended with an emphasis on the importance of vaccines for all age groups, debunking the common myth that vaccines are only for children. He also added that vaccination is in fact cost effective as a higher frequency of vaccinations will drive prices down and enhance their accessibility. Following a cycle, even more people would then get vaccinated. Likewise, FriendlyCare aims to do just that: increase patient awareness, make vaccines more accessible, and change the healthy life from a possibility to a guarantee.

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For more information please visit http://www.friendlyare.org

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