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Carol Bradley Bursack, Published July 31 2011

Bursack: Shingles can have devastating effects

Dear Readers: According to the Mayo Clinic website, 20 to 30 percent of people over 60 get shingles, which can be serious and have long-lasting effects. However, I received a small avalanche of mail from across the country and even the UK after my July 10 column about how many younger people get shingles, some having lasting, disabling effects.

This can mean that caregivers may be affected by shingles, even if their elders aren’t. Don’t worry about the disease being contagious. It’s not. However, you can get a repeat occurrence.

Here is a small sample of comments from readers:

After reading the notes above, and many others, as well, I checked the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines. The site says that the vaccine is only available to people over 60, as that was the age of the group studied for safety and effectiveness. It also states that all people in that age group should be vaccinated.

I hope studies will soon be conducted using the younger population so that everyone can have access to the vaccine. Thanks to you all for helping to increase awareness about this serious, and potentially devastating, disease.


Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached at carol@mindingourelders.com.