Tue 2021-Aug-31

Today I got shot (a fourth time)

Tagged: PharmaAndBiotech / Statistics

Today I got shot for the fourth time this year. No, not the COVID-19 booster (yet). The second dose of Shingrix, for shingles.

Shingles is nothing to mess around with

Shingles is what happens when the chickenpox disease of childhood leaves behind some terrorist cells of varicella zoster virus. They hang out in your body, doing not much of anything, until you get old. Then they break out and directly attack pain nerves in what’s called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN)… which is way less fun than it sounds, even if you’re a masochist.

Fortunately, since 1995, there’s been a chickenpox vaccine to stop this in childhood; every kid should get that. But as a grumpy old scientist, I didn’t have the benefit of that vaccine in my childhood, which places me at risk for shingles now. The epidemiology says that 95% of adults in the US have had chicken pox. [1]

So…shingles vaccine it is, then!

Shingles vaccines

Shingrix pack shot Zostavax pack shot Yeah, we got ‘em.

Some time ago, I got the then-current shingles vaccine, Zostavax. It had an efficacy of 50% – 60% [2], which at the time seemed pretty good. But then Shingrix came along, with a stunning efficacy of about 97%! [3] (Even better than the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.)

So, yeah… I want me some of that. More to the point, my doctor agrees and is revaccinating all her patients who already got Zostavax.

Shingrix is a 2-shot series, and yesterday after forking over $25 and flashing my Medicare ID card, I got my 2nd shot. (Third shot, if you want to include the earlier Zostavax.)

Side effects

About what you’d expect: sore upper left arm, 1.5°C fever (axillary measurement), lots of fatigue and achy joints & muscles. (Though, to be fair, the last bit is more or less normal for me, as age creeps upon me.) Mildly annoying, but not nearly so annoying as shingles! That’s a good trade-off.

Looking forward to spending a day on the couch, watching the JJ Abrams Star Trek, a documentary on Leonard Nimoy called For the Love of Spock, and maybe even binge-watch the Twilight movies. (The Weekend Editrix hates them. Although I have some reservations, I like the adventure & love story parts. Don’t judge me.)

This is the 4th vaccine this year for both your humble Weekend Editor & Editrix (2 COVID-19 + 2 Shingrix). I’m forecasting a total of 6 jabs this year for us (additionally: COVID-19 booster + flu shot), which means 2021 will be a banner year for vaccinations, here at Chez Weekend.

Looking forward to feeling a bit better tomorrow. Looking forward even more to not getting shingles for the rest of my life.

Notes & References

1: Boston Children’s Hospital, “Chickenpox”, Conditions and Treatments.

2: Centers for Disease Control, “What Everyone Should Know about Zostavax”, Vaccines and Preventable Diseases, 2020-Nov-19. NB: Zostavax was discontinued in the US in favor of the superior Shingrix vaccine, so this information is purely for historical archival interest only.

3: Centers for Disease Control, “What Everyone Should Know about the Shingles Vaccine (Shingrix)”, Vaccines and Preventable Diseases, retrieved 2021-Jun-29. NB: This reference claims 99% of Americans have some of the chickenpox/shingles virus in them, more than the 95% claimed in the first reference. Basically, we’re all at risk for shingles.

Published Tue 2021-Aug-31

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