This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Vaccinating against shingles

Written by: | Published:

Vaccinating against shingles Vaccinating against shingles

Practice nurse Sue Adams first contracted herpes zoster (shingles) in 1976, age 25 years. She has experienced two further episodes of shingles and has occasional flare-ups of symptoms.

'I don't think anyone appreciates how debilitating shingles is, and how depressed one can become,' she explains. 'The pain is the most significant long-term side effect. It still comes and goes - particularly in early spring time.'

Reactivation of virus

Shingles is caused by secondary reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, a member of the human herpes virus group. It lies latent in nerve tissue close to the brain and spinal cord following primary infection, which usually occurs as a child with varicella (chickenpox).

'As a child I had the usual diseases: measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio and chickenpox. With each, I seemed to have a bad reaction. I was in hospital with polio and the chickenpox was quite severe,' says Ms Adams.

An American study of 1,700 patients who had a documented case of shingles between 1996 and 2001 found around 5 per cent were treated for a second episode within an average of eight years.1 For Ms Adams to have suffered three episodes is highly unusual.

When Ms Adams initially contracted shingles, neither preventive vaccination nor anti-viral agents were available.

Please login or register to read the rest of the article and to have access to downloads and comments.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.

Read a free issue from Practice Nursing

Register to read a free issue from our sister publication, Practice Nursing.

Including articles on asthma, diabetes and more. Read your copy.


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.