Shingles virus could be present in your body

If you've had chickenpox, the shingles virus is alive in your body

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – If you’ve had the chickenpox, the shingles virus is alive in your body. Shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus, which many people have been exposed to over their lives even if we don’t know it.

However, as you become older or your immune system declines, it can reactivate and give you a painful rash that develops in a stripe pattern. It can be very debilitating and dangerous. After the rash resolves, some people will wind up with nerve pain that can last for weeks, months or indefinitely.

Baystate Medical Centers Division Chief for Geriatrics, Palliative Care and Post-Acute Medicine, Dr. Maura Brennan, said it can be far more debilitating, painful, and common than people realize, “Depending on the study you look at probably about 20-30 % of adult Americans could expect to get Shingles in their lives without the vaccination. With the vaccination you could cut that in half, and believe me if you’ve ever seen it you would want to avoid it.”

The shingles vaccine is usually covered by insurance because of how painful and debilitating it can be, and it can be much cheaper to prevent than to treat. The vaccine can cost a couple hundred dollars without insurance.

You can still get shingles with the shot, but it prevents about half the cases and eliminates about two thirds of that possible painful nerve pain.

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