Ahead of My Time: Getting the Shingles Vaccine Before Age 50

Ahead of My Time: Getting the Shingles Vaccine Before Age 50
As a teenager, I would try to do things I wasn't old enough to do: drive a car, watch R-rated movies, go to bars. As an adult, I tried to get vaccinated against shingles when I was in my early 40s, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends it for ages 50 and older. Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. After getting chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in the body and reactivate as shingles when the immune system weakens. This often happens with age, but the risk is also high in people whose immunity is compromised by chronic disease or medication, including IBD patients. Recent studies suggest that IBD patients be vaccinated at a younger age. IBD News Today reported last year on the increased risk of shingles in IBD patients. The article cited a Canadian study's recommendation that “a more proactive policy of vaccinating persons who may soon start biologicals, perhaps even starting at age 40 years, should be considered.” In 2017, the Department of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison received a grant to perform research that could support “universal herpes zoster immunization for all IBD patients above the age of 40.” Earlier this year at the Crohn’s & Colitis Congress, Dr. Marie L. Borum said, “Increased efforts should be made to administer herpes zoster vaccine in all eligible IBD patients, and there should be additional research focused on determining whether IBD patients under 50 years old, especially those on immunosuppressants or biologic therapy, would benefit from herpes zoster vaccination.” She presented study findings that the average age of IBD patients diagnosed with shingles was 37. In the United States, people can c
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