Finally, an effective vaccine against shingles is within reach


Life expectancy continues to grow and this increase, each day more palpable in our country, is becoming one of the most important challenges that must be faced in the field of public health in this 21st century for all its implications, not only health but economic and social.

With these increasing numbers of older people, the challenge for the future will be how to meet the increased demand for health, family care and the awareness that prevention plays an important role and that there is no age to stop putting it into practice. practice.

Having within our reach, as part of the arsenal of vaccines, a new and effective tool to prevent a disease as frequent, painful and with deleterious effects on health and quality of life among the elderly population as herpes zoster is of great importance, which is why is the topic selected for today’s article.

Despite the great health diffusion about the benefit of vaccination in general, even in the elderly population it constitutes a challenge due to ignorance or false beliefs about vaccines and their potential adverse effects.

The Shingrix vaccine, produced by adjuvanted subunit DNA recombination techniques (a technique that improves the immunogenicity of vaccines), is already in our pharmacies and has been shown to be more effective than a live attenuated vaccine.

It is scientifically proven that vaccination at all stages of life is essential for a healthy life and promote successful and healthy aging.

What is herpes zoster?

It is an infection that is generated by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus from its latent state in a dorsal root ganglion.

Symptoms usually begin with pain throughout the affected dermatome, followed 2 to 3 days later by a characteristically characteristic vesicular rash on an erythematous (reddened) base.

A dermatome is the region of skin innervated by somatic sensory nerve axons associated with a single spinal nerve sensory ganglion at a single level of the spinal cord.

The first infection, usually in childhood, causes chickenpox, with the virus remaining dormant in the dorsal ganglia of a certain body region, to later reactivate under certain circumstances and give rise to herpes zoster.

In practice we find the association of intense pain, described as lancinating (living, very sharp, stabbing pain) or electrical (whiplash) located on a certain metamere (fragment of the spinal cord that contains an input and output of a nerve root) .

Typically, the distribution is unilateral and the most frequent location is the thoracic, followed by herpes zoster in the cranial nerves, although it can appear in other locations.

As an important complication we highlight postherpetic neuralgia that appears in approximately 50% of patients over 60 years of age, it is important to warn the patient of the possibility that the pain will continue for weeks and even months.

In the event of involvement of the first branch of the trigeminal nerve, known as herpes zoster ophthalmicus, the patient should be referred to an ophthalmologist to rule out herpetic keratitis.

Vaccines not only prevent diseases, but also protect against complications resulting from the disease that is prevented, as is the typical case of herpes zoster with painful postherpetic neuralgia.

Undoubtedly, the scientific evidence supports that vaccines should be considered an investment because it is one of the most effective tools available to the health system.

Vaccines constitute an indisputable pillar on which public health policies are based and are the most cost-efficient intervention together with the purification of water that exists.

With less financial investment, better health outcomes are achieved for the entire population in terms of decreased hospital admissions, mortality, disability and indirect costs.

It is highly relevant that despite aging, which predisposes us to certain diseases, especially those of an infectious nature, our defenses are in good health and protect us to live with the best possible quality of life.

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