Friday, December 20, 2019

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate an ongoing hotly discussed topic these days. I fall squarely into the vaccinate camp; but I'm not going to judge those that choose otherwise.


Today's post is written with the simple intent to provide more information, specifically the shingles vaccine.

I was chatting with a friend yesterday, and asked her if she had considered receiving the shingles vaccination. She was super supportive and was kept informed of every gross disgusting and painful detail of my experiences lately. So I was really surprised at her answer, which was,

"Well.....I don't know...." here she wrinkled her nose. "I know someone that had that vaccine and her arm was sore for TWO WHOLE DAYS."

Really? REALLY?

I couldn't believe it. "You'd risk going through what I have been going through for the past three weeks because you don't want to deal with a bit of arm soreness for a couple of days?!"

She shrugged.

It was time to bring out the big guns. I hadn't planned on sharing this but desperate times called for desperate actions. It was time to show her THE PICTURE.

Yes. The one that I'm going to share with y'all.

*Disclaimer: this is really disgusting. So scroll down really fast if you have a weak stomach*

Me. That's ME. I still can't believe it.

This pustule laden rash continues around under my left arm and over the left side of my chest. The picture was taken two days ago, and today has progressed in that the blisters have popped leaving big chunks of raw open lesions across my back.


My friend's jaw dropped in shock. She was stunned.

I don't know what people think a shingles rash looks like or feels like but it isn't pretty or comfortable. For me, my symptoms are severe enough to require three prescription drugs: the antiviral acyclovir, large doses of gabapentin, and opioid pain medication. I feel like a zombie but that's a huge improvement over dealing with the debilitating pain.

I'd give almost anything to have been able to receive that vaccine that could have eliminated or made this experience far less severe than it has been. And I would have -- if only I had had decent white cell numbers this summer and fall.

Ah, well. I most certainly will get it as soon as it is safe to do so.

As I said earlier, I don't want to judge anyone's decision here. I just want to provide adequate and truthful information so that an informed decision can be made.

Currently, there are two versions of the shingles vaccine. Check with your physician to see which is right for you. Here's the dope about this vaccine from the CDC, found here. :

What Everyone Should Know about Zostavax 
Your risk of shingles and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) increases as you get older. CDC recommends that people 60 years old and older get shingles vaccine (Zostavax®) to prevent shingles and PHN. Shingrix (recombinant zoster vaccine) is the preferred vaccine, over Zostavax® (zoster vaccine live), a shingles vaccine in use since 2006. Zostavax may still be used to prevent shingles in healthy adults 60 years and older. For example, you could use Zostavax if a person is allergic to Shingrix, prefers Zostavax, or requests immediate vaccination and Shingrix is unavailable. 
Zostavax (zoster vaccine live) was licensed by the FDA in 2006. This vaccine reduces the risk of developing shingles by 51% and PHN by 67%. It is given in one dose as a shot, and can be given in a doctor’s office or pharmacy. 
Who Should Get Shingles Vaccine? 
People 60 years of age or older should get shingles vaccine (Zostavax). They should get the vaccine whether or not they recall having had chickenpox, which is caused by the same virus as shingles. Studies show that more than 99% of Americans aged 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they don’t remember getting the disease. There is no maximum age for getting shingles vaccine. Continue reading here
My friend gulped and told me that perhaps she should go get herself vaccinated. If you are on the fence, read the information and give it serious thought. Shingles is a disease not to be taken lightly.


Laura said...

Oh my! I am so sorry. :( That looks more miserable than my imagination managed, even.

Anonymous said...

You may have helped a great many people with this post. Years ago, at age 37 and long before there was any vaccine or anti virals, I had shingles. It was like yours only on the right side. I was very sick for a month and had post-herpetic neuralgia for 20 years afterwards. Due to serious drug sensitivity, the only things I could use were a half dose of an opioid and a half dose of a sleeping drug. After I got the sleeping medication I was able to sleep for four hours a night. Walking across a small room was nearly impossible. Every time I get a chance to tell someone I do so. It may not help, but I want people to have that information. It's so easy to not understand the severity of shingles. My final comment is always that you wouldn't wish this on your worst enemy, It's just too horrible.

I'm so sorry you've gotten it and hope you begin to recover soon. Your blog is so interesting and I always admire your humor. Please know you're thought of with sypathy and affection.

dj said...

Y'all might look before you jab:'Merck’s Zostavax, the lucrative shingles vaccine marketed to people ages 50 years and older, can allegedly cause shingles, serious injuries and even death. Our attorneys are now investigating lawsuits on behalf of patients who have suffered life-threatening injuries after receiving this vaccine...Zostavax Linked to Serious Injuries
Zostavax has allegedly caused a number of serious injuries, according to lawsuits filed by some recipients of the vaccine.
Zostavax’s reported serious side effects include:

Paralysis in extremities
Eye damage, such as acute retinal necrosis and blindness
Brain damage
Fatal liver failure
Other recipients contracted shingles — the very condition the vaccine is designed to prevent — after receiving the Zostavax vaccine. Shingles is a viral infection that can cause a painful blistering rash and other potential serious complications, including permanent eye damage, brain inflammation, a condition known as post-herpetic neuralgia, and even death.'

Shara from Seattle said...

My heart goes out to you Jules. So, if you have had chicken pox you get this? I was all prepared to call my doctor Monday until DJ wrote his comment. Not that I think marijuana is the cure for everything but have you tried CBD lotion on that? I'd be using it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry that you are dealing with this shingles virus.

My Mother received the Shingles vaccine about five years ago.
She has had nothing but chronic shingles infections since then. As she gets older, it seems to get worse. She's 71 years old and very healthy otherwise. I think this issue is complicated. Everyone's immune system reacts differently . I also have researched a lot about the herpes viruses.
I have issues with chronic Herpes infections such as Epstein Barr and HSV 1. I also have a low white blood cell count. Currently my immunologist at the University of Washington thinks my viruses have mutated. He doesn't recommend that I receive any vaccines at the moment due to my reactions from the last vaccine. And my low functioning immune system. I have been on 2 to 3 grams daily of Valacyclovir for suppressive therapy. It's so frustrating because I'm still dealing with chronic infections. I was diagnosed with Sjogren's in 2013 at the age of 49.

Thank you for sharing your journey and positivity with us. I think you are a great example of living with chronic illness with a sense of humor. I hope you heal that shingles and I wish you the best!

annie said...

Hi Julia,

Thank you for posting that very realistic picture for us to see what shingles looks like. I'm so sorry you are yet going through another health trial. It never seems to end for you. I'm of the age where I should have the shingles vaccine, but I'm on the fence about vaccines like this and even flu vaccines. Because our immune system is compromised, we technically shpuld take the vaccine, but on the other hand, a lot of us deal with intolerances,sensitivities to drugs etc., and for myself I always worry about side effects and what the vaccines contain and my reactions to them. I've had problems with meds and dosages in the past and it is very scary having reactions to medications when you can't breathe properly.

For that reason, I'm not choosing to get vaccinated right now. My friend, who has fibro/ME had flu like symptoms, fever and felt sick for over a week, could not get out of bed, so that clinched it for me. Everyone reacts differently to a vaccine, and everyone should make their own individual decision, as everyone knows his/her own body. No one wants to go through what you are currently suffering through. I guess because of your low immune function, you got a severe case . Again, so sorry.

I'll take the opportunity to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas, and wish you a prompt recovery from your horrible pain so you can enjoy some quality time with your family.

Anonymous said...

I never thought that Shingles was that bad...I knew there was substantial pain, but didn't know about post shingle pain that may persist....until several people that I knew, including my father got shingles, I was basically uninterested in getting the shingles vaccine....about the age of 60 a friend got shingles (she too was against the vaccine prior to her outbreak)...she soon spread her experience to her various friends and I did a little research...
I learned that children can get it, and multiple times! I learned that it does not just occur around your waistline , but the outbreak can be on your face, on your eyelids, etc... since I do get recurrent outbreaks of herpes, I decided to get the vaccine...that was 11 years ago....and so far no shingles incident... I am told that if I do breakout with shingles it won't be as bad or severe as if I did not get the vaccine. Plain and simple, I understand that the pain level is the most severe that most people will ever I chose to get vaccinated. Hang in there Julia...shingles won't dampen your humor gene...I am thankful that you were brave enough to post that picture...thank you! thank you!

Rositta said...

My late mom got shingles before there was a vaccine. She never fully recovered and died 8 months later. I got the vaccine as soon as it became available. As someone who has RA, Psoriatic arthritis, Crohns and most recent diagnosis Lupus I’m not taking any chances. I’m also a cancer survivor. I trust science. I want all anti vaxxers and their little unvaccinated kiddies to stay far far away from me. I wish you the best of luck for a speedy recovery.