Chickenpox vaccine is great, but it’s got us 30+ year-olds getting shingles. Here’s why…

The varicella (chickenpox) vaccine came out in 1995. So, as of now (2019) in the US (and Canada), most of the college-age students have been vaccinated and have never had the natural chickenpox virus.

Once you’ve had the natural chickenpox virus in your body the virus goes dormant in your nervous system until possibly one day when you’re under a time of extreme stress/immunocompromise and the virus reactivates. Reactivation of the varicella virus (chickenpox) causes shingles (zoster).

Since these kids have never had the chickenpox virus, theoretically they won’t get shingles later in life. That’s assuming the vaccine is effective, most everyone has been vaccinated, and these children do not get the wild virus.

We can’t expect that all children will be vaccinated, however, the chickenpox vaccine is so effective that the seroconversion rate (when antibodies develop to a detectable level in the blood) is around 95% in healthy children.(2) That means the vaccine works pretty well, so it should help create good herd immunity if most children are vaccinated, and thus, aid in the prevention of shingles for the uninfected/vaccinated later in life. 

So, simplified–if you’ve had chickenpox you are able to get shingles. If you’ve never had chickenpox you are not able to get shingles. If you’ve had the vaccine, you’ve never had chickenpox so you shouldn’t get shingles. 

Read moreChickenpox vaccine is great, but it’s got us 30+ year-olds getting shingles. Here’s why…

Scared of needles?

Believe it or not, I once had a fear of needles. Many years ago when I was a child I instinctively swatted the nurse giving me an injection causing the needle to scrape all the way down my arm. That’s something that stuck with me all the way into my young adult years.

I think a lot of us have an innate fear of needles. If you didn’t know better would you hold out our arm and let someone pierce it with a sharp object? I don’t think so. So if the thought of doing so makes you weak in the knees then know that you most definitely aren’t alone.

How did I get past my fear? First off, I desensitized myself by giving injections. Second, I learned everything I could about vaccine-preventable diseases, which helped to remind myself that injections are important. And third, I had babies and that meant injections, blood draws, and IVs galore on top of everything else.

Injections are still unpleasant but definitely not unbearable. I’m not going to ever say that you’re going to be happy about getting stuck with a needle, but I think I can help you to tolerate the experience with minimal freakout.

Here are some ways to help you cope:

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New study finds low vaccine rates in children with autism

In a new study that can be found in JAMA Pediatrics, they’ve found that children with autism spectrum disorder are statistically less likely to be fully vaccinated than children not on the spectrum. They’ve found that 80% of children with autism are fully vaccinated with the recommended vaccines for children 4-6 years old (which includes … Read moreNew study finds low vaccine rates in children with autism

Sabin and the vaccine that changed the world

Dr. Albert Sabin is famous for his development of the live oral polio vaccine and for the attempt to eradicate polio by vaccinating an entire population all at once. His commitment to the eradication of polio saved many children from death and paralysis and still does today. He is an inspiration to us all! Please … Read moreSabin and the vaccine that changed the world