A shingles prevention vaccine, Zostavax, was approved in May of 2006 by the FDA for adults 60 years of age and older. In March of 2011 the FDA approved the use of Zostavax for prevention of shingles for adults ages 50-59. What is the purpose of forcing this shingles vaccine on the American population?
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, occurs when the chickenpox virus reactivates after being inactive for many years in nerve cells. The vaccine is only for adults who previously have had chickenpox. The purpose of the vaccine is to reduce the possibility of getting shingles and or reducing the symptoms and complications. Symptoms of shingles include early one-sided pain, tingling, or burning. Red patches on the skin and small blisters may form as well. Most people will recover in 3-5 weeks without serious complications. Those with weakened immune systems may suffer further complications known as postherpatic neuralgia (PHN) which is a burning pain caused by damaged nerve fibers. The cause of shingles is unclear but related to stress, a weakened immune system, and use of immunosuppressive medications.
The vaccine consists of the same live virus as the chickenpox vaccine, but it is 14 times stronger than the chickenpox vaccine (1). It is administered as a single dose by injection in the arm. The vaccine should not be taken if you are pregnant, allergic to its ingredients including neomycin or gelatin, have active untreated tuberculosis, organ transplantation, have an immune deficiency, leukemia, lymphoma, HIV/AIDS, or take high doses of steroids by injection or mouth (2).
Ingredients of the Zostavax shingles vaccination (3) as provided by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention:
- Varicella live virus neomycin phosphate
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG) processed gelatin
- Fetal bovine serum
- Guinea pig embryo cells
- Albumin from human blood
- Human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue
There has not been much research done on the vaccine and the duration of protection beyond 4 years after vaccination is unknown (4). These studies also showed that only 50% of those vaccinated are protected by it. Additionally, the vaccine has only been tested on Caucasians over the age of 60, (95% of the shingles prevention study included Caucasians).
According to FDA, Asians, African Americans, or Hispanics may have varying immune responses to the vaccine that have not yet been determined (5). The vaccine is expensive, costing up to $300 and Medicare part B doesn’t cover it.
Health Sciences Institute advisory panelist, Allan Spreen, M.D., says that he “wouldn’t take it for a king’s ransom because all vaccinations are suspect until they’ve been monitored for decades and this vaccine obviously could not fall in that category” (6).
A strong immune system is important to those of every age. Getting to know what support you need for your body can be done through comprehensive blood and toxic element analysis. Detection of toxicities and deficiencies will let you be in control to get your body as healthy as possible. The body is capable to heal and repair itself before an outbreak may occur.
Nutrients to consider for optimal immune function:
Supplements are not a replacement for a healthy diet! However, they can serve to enhance the quality or nutrient density of your diet. The following dosages are for a 150lb adult. To take the guesswork out of exactly what you need for adequate immune function, consider setting up a consultation with one of our specialists.
- B12: Vitamin B12 supports the protective sheath around nerves and support regeneration. We recommend a product called Sublingual B12FA at a dosage of 3 per day. This would be equivalent to 3000mcg of B12 and 1200mcg of Folic Acid.
- Vitamin C 6000mg/day: Works with vitamin E as a powerful antioxidant reducing inflammation.
- Vitamin E 400IU per day of mixed tocopherols: Nerve conduction and function. Researchers found that mild to moderate defective nerve conduction was improved with high-dose vitamin E, which suggested that patients with neuropathy might experience a reduction in symptoms (7).
- Lauricidin 2 tsp per day: Lauricidin is lauric acid/monolaurin which has been shown to be anti-viral as well as anti-bacterial.
- High quality multiple vitamin and mineral supplement: Visit our website and review our newsletter titled “Choosing a Multiple Vitamin” May 2008.
Nutrients and therapies to consider during a shingles outbreak:
- Take Vitamin E, B12 and Folic acid as described above.
- Double the dose of Vitamin C and increase Lauricidin to 3 tsp per day.
- Add Oil of Oregano 600mg/day
- Acupuncture is helpful in some cases of shingles and PHN. Call our office for more information about our acupuncture services.
- Formula 303: Can help calm the nervous system and is a natural stress and nervousness relaxant. Take 1 per hour during the waking hours if you have an outbreak of shingles. Do not exceed 12 in one day. You can also take 3-4 at bedtime to use as a sleep aide.
- Calamine lotion may used on open lesions as a topical pain reliever.
- Zostrix® for a topical pain reliever after lesions have crusted over.
- After lesions have crusted over, apply topical Vitamin E to reduce scarring. Simply pierce a hole in the capsule of the Vitamin E you’re taking internally and apply to affected area twice per day.
1. Hicks, Barb. Shingles Vaccination Side Effects – Pros and Cons. http://www.clivir.com. October 20, 2009.
2. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Patient Information About Zostavax. http://www.merck.com/product/usa. June 2011
3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads. Updated March 2010
4. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. In Investigational Study, ZOSTAVAX®, Merck’s Shingles Vaccine, Reduced Incidence of Shingles in Adults Ages 50 to 59 by Nearly 70 Percent. http://www.merck.com/newsroom/. October 21, 2010
5. Levine, Norman MD. Shingles Vaccine. http://www.webmd.com. February 27, 2010
6. Payne, January W. It’s Official: Get Your Shingles Vaccination” U.S. News and World Report, 5/16/08, health.usnews.com
7. Tutuncu NB, Bayraktar M, et al. Reversal of defective nerve conduction with vitamin E supplementation in type 2 diabetes: A preliminary study. Diabetes Care. Nov 21, 1998