The shingles vaccine is available under the National Immunisation Program and is free for anyone aged 70 to 79. It’s also available for those aged 50-69 years and 80 or older via prescription, but the patient must pay for the vaccine. Even if you have had shingles in the past, a vaccination is still recommended.
Pregnancy and shingles
If you contract shingles while pregnant, you will not pass the virus on to your unborn baby. You have had the virus lying dormant in your nerve cells ever since you had chickenpox, and there is no increased risk of infection for the foetus once the virus becomes active.
What is shingles?
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, varicella-zoster virus. If you have had chickenpox in the past, the virus stays dormant in the nerve cells near your spine. Shingles occurs when the virus becomes active, the trigger for which is unknown.
You cannot catch shingles from an infected person. However, if you have never had chickenpox or the vaccine, you can contract chickenpox from somebody infected with shingles.
Shingles is most likely to occur in people aged 60 and over or those with a compromised immune system.
Shingles presents as a rash on one side of the body, either on the pelvis, abdomen, chest, back or face. It has a characteristic pattern because the virus moves down the nerves that flow out of the spinal cord. It can be blistered and painful and last between 10 to 15 days, after which the skin should return to normal. In the days leading up to the occurrence of the rash, you might experience sore skin, fatigue, headache or photophobia.
For more information please view the Better Health website.
For information on other vaccines, see also: