Shingles…to take or not take the new Vaccine?

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Question: from Terry

I read with great interest your reply to the question about Vitamin D preventing cancer. Specifically your reply: “In other words it is not a matter of taking mega doses of Vitamin D but rather ensuring that you don’t have a deficiency. Remember that most cancers are due to a nutrient deficiency!”

Can this same principle apply to other conditions?

The current issue of Prevention Magazine has ’suggestions/advertisements’ to be vaccinated (when you turn 60 years old) with Zostavax to prevent shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Apparently, “1 in 4 people who have had chickenpox eventually develops the blistering rash of shingles – caused when the chickenpox virus, Varicella zoster” is reactivated. 40% will go on to suffer what’s been described as the worst kind of pain imaginable. Called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) it is so agonizing that it’s been known to lead some people to suicide.”

Back to my question, can a nutritional deficiency be a factor here, and if not, is this ’scare tactics’ by pharmaceuticals?

Thanks as always for your input..

Answer: from Warren Matthews of Xtend-Life

I believe that this principle does indeed apply to many other conditions. Naturally there are exceptions to this in that in a minority of cases degenerative disease can be caused by a genetic defect, but from all the material I have read this is the exception rather than the rule.

The issue that you have raised in relation to the new vaccine for the prevention of shingles is an interesting one, and one in which I confess not to have an opinion…at least when it comes to suggesting what people should or should not do in relation to this potential condition.

What I can say is that personally I would never take such a vaccine just for preventative purposes. The reason being is that the risk of getting the condition is very low in spite of their claim that 1 in 4 people who have had chicken pox in their childhood are likely to develop shingles at a later stage.

I am rather intrigued as to how they get these figures. I remember that when I was a kid that everyone seemed to get chicken pox and it was pretty unusual to find a kid who had not had it. If the majority of kids got it, and I know I did and so did everyone else I knew, then it would follow that shingles would be a very common disease. But, is it?

Consider these figures.

In the study that Merck the developers of the vaccine did they had two groups of approx 19,000 subjects. One group was given the vaccine and the other a placebo. In the placebo group approx 600 people got shingles, and around 300 in the vaccine group got it.

This is where they get the 50% reduction figures from.

Now, look at it another way.

The chances of getting shingles if you are over 60 with NO vaccine were approx 3%.
The chances of getting shingles if you are over 60 WITH the vaccine were 1.5%.

Now, here is an interesting thought! The chance of having a serious adverse effect from the vaccine was more than 1.5% depending upon your age!

So what does this mean?

* Your risk of getting shingles if you vaccinate is only reduced by 1.5%. This is how it should be looked at, NOT a reduction in risk of 50% which is a convenient marketing distortion.
* The risk of having a serious adverse effect is greater than 1.5%
* So, if you have the vaccine the risk of having a serious side effect is equal to the reduction of the risk of getting shingles after having the vaccine.

There is really nothing more that I can add to this. It must at the end of the day be a personal decision which would be influenced by your state of health and how you assess the risks.

As a footnote: My Mother got shingles when she was in her late 80’s and she certainly suffered with a great deal of pain which continued until she died a few years later. Unfortunately she was not diagnosed with shingles early enough. However, if she had been there is now a vaccine that is very effective at halting shingles soon after it appears IF it is administered early enough.

Even though I saw what Mum had to suffer I personally would still not take the vaccine because I believe I will be in much better health than Mum when I reach that age and therefore much less likely to contract it. If however, I suspected that I was getting it I would not hesitate to have the vaccine AFTER it had been diagnosed.

If you ever suspect that you may be getting shingles by feeling a vague tingling on your skin, don’t delay, check it out immediately and have the vaccine at that point. If you don’t it may linger and get to the point of serious pain that could last for years. There may be natural remedies to treat shingles and they should be used but nonetheless in a case such as this I would in addition to any natural remedy take advantage of modern medical technology.

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Originally posted 2007-10-13 15:15:18.

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One Response to “Shingles…to take or not take the new Vaccine?”

  1. [...] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptCan this same principle apply to other conditions? The current issue of Prevention Magazine has ’suggestions/advertisements’ to be vaccinated (when you turn 60 years old) with Zostavax to prevent shingles and postherpetic Neuralgia. [...]

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