Shingles vaccine shortage hits the Upstate

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – The shortage of the shingles vaccine is raising new concerns for Upstate doctors.

Shingles is a painful rash that flares up for people who have had chickenpox in the past.

For Laura Nunamacher, her bout with shingles started about a month ago with back pain.

“Just before the fifth day I noticed a rash on my abdomen and thought, since this has been so painful, I wonder if this could be shingles,” said Nunamacher.

Nurse Practitioner Amy Garner with Emergency MD said Nunamacher’s experience is common.

“You have the chicken pox and your body builds up an immunity to that but once you get past the age of 50 your body kinda tends to lose immunity to that, but the virus still lives in your body,” said Garner.

Shingles is a painful rash basically caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus.

Nunamacher believes it was stress that triggered the disease in her case.

“I did have the chicken pox as a child, a very mild case and I’ve always heard that that virus can lay dormant and that something could set it off and cause shingles,” Nunamacher said.

The vaccine, intended for those over the age of 50, is used to boost the immune system against the virus.

When shingles flare up, it can appear as a painful rash on the body. 

Demand for the vaccine outweighed the supply, so in addition to some medicaton, medical professionals suggest other methods to try and ease the pain.

For people who do get the shingles, Garner suggests applying ice or calamine lotion to the area.

Shingles are not contageous when it’s just a rash, but can be spread while the blisters are flared up or open so those who are pregnant or with a compromised immune system should be cautious around those with a breakout.

“Finally after a month, I’m starting to feel better. It’s probably the worst pain I’ve ever experinced in my life,” said Nunamacher. “I recommend anyone who can get the vaccine, go put your name on the waiting list and get it.”

The vaccine, Shingrix, has been in short supply. Manufacturer GSK has increased production to meet demand.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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