Residents of Shanghai and Beijing can now receive vaccine for shingles.
The vaccine is approved for preventing shingles, or herpes zoster, in people 50 years of age and older. It is recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays inactive in the body but can be reactivated years later, causing shingles. The elderly, women and those with low immunity are more vulnerable to the disease, which can cause acute pain. It occurs in 30 to 50 percent of patients over one year.
About 1.56 million people suffer the disease in China every year. With the increase in the number of the elderly, there will be more patients in the future, doctors predict.
"Research found about 90 percent of people over 50 years old may have the virus in the body and nearly one-third can develop the disease," said Dr Chen Demei from Shanghai Ren'ai Hospital." The older the age, the more serious the condition and the slower the recovery. Timely treatment is very important. As many elderly people have underlying diseases like hypertension and diabetes, pain caused by shingles can lead to serious complications and even fatalities.
"The current treatments only can shorten the duration and lessen symptoms of shingles. So people eligible for the vaccine can get shots for protection. The vaccine is effective for 90 percent of people aged 50 or older against shingles."
So far the vaccine is available at local neighborhood health centers and hospitals approved for offering vaccination service.
"We have a bilingual hotline to provide consultation and vaccination reservation. Expatriates also can call 54893781 for details of the vaccine," Chen said.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)
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