Last week I visited a local Walgreens pharmacy but not to pick up a prescription. No – I went expecting to receive three separate vaccinations but I left having received two. Now I need two more. So what is going on here? A baby boomer receiving four vaccinations?
The other vaccine was for shingles.
Shingles – have you heard of it? You probably have. Several of my friends have experienced shingles attacks. I did not like how they described the debilitating pain.
The shingles vaccine is recommended for most adults 60 years or older, and particularly if you had chickenpox as a child. (It’s the same virus.) The vaccine can reduce the chance of experiencing a bout of shingles and/or lessen the severity of the shingles rash and pain.
What really sold me on the need for the shingles vaccine is avoiding one of the terrible complications of shingles: postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). I had never heard of PHN before but now I know that it is a neuropathic pain syndrome that can go on for an extended period or even indefinitely.
The pain of PHN can be so bad that PHN is the number one cause of pain-related suicide in the elderly population.
Statistics show that 10% of shingles victims between age 60 and 69 develop PHN.
That was enough to scare me into action.
The shingles vaccine is a one time event. Unfortunately the protection diminishes over time but I’ll take what I can get.
For more information about shingles and PHN, read this short article.
I had also intended to get the pneumonia vaccine. (My doctor recommended this and the shingles vaccine and suggested I get them at the pharmacy.) However, the pharmacist suggested that I wait until December, when I will turn 65. This is because there are two pneumonia vaccines offered in sequence for 65+ aged boomers which are potentially more effective. So I will wait for two months then receive the first of the two pneumonia vaccines.
Finally, I more recently received an education on my need for a tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis booster shot. The primary reason is that the a whooping cough booster is recommended for all adults who will be in contact with an infant. My grandson is due in February so there you go. I am heading back to Walgreens this weekend for the Dtap booster.
Being a baby boomer is all about managing risk – financial and otherwise – isn’t it? Vaccinations are part of that process.
So are you fully vaccinated?