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Shingles a viral infection, usually present as painful skin rash with blisters on only one side of the body and appears in the form of a strip. It is caused by varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who had chickenpox in the past can develop shingles when the virus reactivates, which can be triggered by stress, or a reduced immunity status. Sometimes pain from shingles continues after rash was cleared, this is called postherpetic neuralgia, and may last for weeks to months, occationaly over a year.
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Zostavax vaccine is the only single-dose vaccine available in Canada for prevention of shingles. Although it is a live vaccine and is not suitable for everyone, most people who are over the age of 50 with a past history of chickenpox is eligible and should consider receiving the vaccine.
Recently approved in Canada, Shingrix is a non-live intramuscular vaccine for prevention of shingles. The primary vaccination schedule consists of two doses at 0 and 2-6 months. Administration of the second dose of Shingrix is important to ensure maximum vaccine efficacy and duration of protection against Herpes Zoster disease.