Everything you need to know about Shingles/Mate huaketo hei

The team here at Ropata have been run off their feet by people wanting shingles vaccinations!

It’s great that you are all thinking about your health and wellbeing, and we are here to help you.

To save you having to sit on hold here is some information:

Zostavax – Single dose, funded only for those aged 65. Once you turn 66 you are not eligible. We are sending all our eligible patients a reminder to book in for this.

Shingrix – non funded vaccine for those aged 50+. There are 2 doses and each dose costs $270 + nurse fee.

If you need more information – keep reading.

What is shingles?

Shingles is a blistering painful skin rash that is cause by the same virus that cause chicken pox (Varicella Zoster/Herpes Zoster). Once a person has had chicken pox the virus lays dormant/inactive in the nerve root of the spine. When it gets reactivated it causes a painful/burning rash on the skin supplied by that nerve root. It can also cause fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes and a general feeling of being unwell.

Most people have the rash for a few weeks with the first few days being the most painful but for some people even after the rash has gone the pain can continue and can be debilitating. Infection in special sites around the eye can be serious.

(Images used with permission

Who gets Shingles?

People who are immune compromised – either through illness, certain medications, treatments for other conditions or emotional stress are at a higher risk of developing shingles.

Can I catch shingles off someone who has it?

If you have had chicken pox then generally the answer is no. If you haven’t, then you could catch it by touching the rash or body fluids of the infected person.

Is there medicine to treat shingles?

Yes (and no). There are antiviral medications that can help shorten the length of time someone has shingles and decrease the chance of ongoing pain etc. They do not kill the virus and are best given as early as possible in the illness. So, if you think you have it – contact your health care team
Other treatments aim to treat the symptoms of the illness – e.g., pain medicine, lotions and cool compresses.

Can shingles be prevented?

Yes – there are 2 vaccines available to help prevent shingles.

Zostavax – this is funded for those aged 65 only. It is a live attenuated vaccine (a weakened form of the virus) which means it won’t be suitable for some immunocompromised people.

Unfortunately due to supply shortage Zostavax is only available to those in this age group.

Shingrix – this is for those aged 50+ or those who cannot have Zostavax. It is not funded which means you must pay for this yourself. 2 doses are recommended, 2-6 months apart.

Links for more information:

Health navigator – zostavax – shingrix

Disclaimer – The information contained on/within this website is not intended to be or replace individualised medical advice given to you by your health professional. All medicines/vaccines/treatments have risks and benefits that should be discussed with your health care team.