The Shingles Vaccine Clinic will take place from 10 a.m. until noon Friday, March 7 at the Lehighton Senior Center, 243 S. Eighth St., Lehighton. If you were registered for the clinic postponed from Feb. 14, or would like to confirm or cancel a previous registration, call the Department of Health at 570-325-6106.
If you had the chickenpox as a child, you could be the one in every three Americans who will experience shingles.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shingles, which is also known as herpes zoster, "is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox."
Children, as well as adults who have had chickenpox, are at risk of developing the condition, but most cases are reported in individuals over 60 years old or who have other medical conditions, such as some types of cancer, that affect the immune system.
Symptoms begin with pain, burning, tickling or tingling in some area of the body, usually only on one side and lasts days or even weeks before a rash forms.
Other symptoms include chills, headache, stomachache, diarrhea or swelling or tenderness of lymph nodes.
Once shingles progresses into the active stage, a painful rash with blisters appears on one side of the face or some part of the body. Shingles can affect the eye and cause loss of vision. The blisters burst and scab over in seven-10 days and usually clear up within two to four weeks.
Some people may experience a common complication called postherpetic neuralgia, which is severe pain in the area of the rash after the rash has cleared up. Sometimes the pain is debilitating but usually goes away after a few weeks or months; and in rare cases, years.
Help is available for people over 60 in the form of vaccines, which help reduce the risk of a shingles attack.
The vaccines are offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, in conjunction with the Area Agency on Aging. The vaccine costs $5; but many will qualify for free vaccines if you are 50 or older, are uninsured or your insurance does not cover it.
Pre-registration is a must.
According to the CDC, people who have had a severe or life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin; have a weakened immune system because of HIV or AIDS; are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy for cancer treatment; have cancer of the bone marrow or lymphatic system; or are pregnant, should not get the vaccine.