Cirrhosis Support Group

Cirrhosis is a consequence of chronic liver disease, most commonly caused by alcoholism and hepatitis C. Ascites is the most common complication of cirrhosis and is associated with a poor quality of life, increased risk of infections, and a poor long term outcome. Liver damage from cirrhosis cannot be reversed, but treatment can stop or delay further progression and reduce complications.

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Shingles vaccination

Been seeing a lot of commercials and print ads urging people to get vaccinated against Shingles.

Seems like it has suddenly become the latest "disease of the week" and the pharmaceutical companies are out there pushing everyone to get this.

Is this truly a problem or are they just trying to push their stock prices higher?

I'm getting a physical in two weeks and will ask my PCP, but just curious what others think of this.

Replies

Susan-English
Susan-English

I asked my hep if I should have it since I had a bad case of chicken pox as a child . He said no.

I have had vaccinations for flu, pneumonia and DPT. Had a slight reaction to this year's. flu shot. A temperature for 24 hours.
deleted_user
deleted_user

My doctor took the opposite stance and suggested to me that I get the shingles vaccine which I had with no problem at all.

I had a very mild case of shingles years ago on my face and it hurt something awful. I still have the tri-giminial (sp) numbness after all these years where the actual shingles lesions were.

My husband had shingles about 20 years ago and was deathly ill. He was in so much pain from the sores on his shoulder and they kept spreading in spite of everything he was told to do for it. He cried and my husband doesn't ever cry for anything that I am aware of. But, shingles brought him to tears because it hurt so badly and made him so sick.

He, also, continues to have pain at the lesion site after all these years so shingles is nothing to mess around with.

As for your doctor saying "no"you don't need the shot........If your statement here is totally accurate, he may have been saying "No, you don't need to take the shot just because of having a bad case of chicken pox as a child". The chicken pox virus is, of course what causes shingles but, a mild case of chicken pox or a difficult and painful case of chicken pox you had as a child makes no difference. You still harbor the same virus for the rest of your life. Some doctors are not careful enough when explaining things to lay people and don't realize that their answer could be taken two ways. Worth asking again.

Sorry to hear you had a reaction to the flu shot but that has nothing to do with whether or not you will have trouble taking the shingles vaccine. I asked about that with both my doctor and the treating practitioner who gave me the shingles vaccine. Both said it makes no diffrence.

I will say that, as a rule, doctors will not provide the shingles vaccine in their offices. They will send you to the drugstore with a prescription and the "nurse practitioner" there will administer the shot. Insurance coverage for the vaccine varies (makes no sense to me but that is what I was told). The do want their money. The vaccine for shingles costs anywhere from $200.00 to $300.00. Way off the charts in my opinion but I paid it out of my pocket to avoid the hassle of dealing with my health insurance and it was exactly $250.00. I have submitted my receipt to my insurance myself and if they pay something towards it fine, if not, fine. Would be nice this close to Christmas to receive a little check back but......

The vaccine itself is kept frozen/refrigerated and then thawed as needed at the drug store. They won't let the vaccine out of the store for fear that someone would take too long after it thaws and warms up that could cause serious problems. (I suppose the drug breaks down quickly once thawed).

You are right, far too often drugs and shots are suggested because of the bottom line. Sad but true. In this case of shingles vaccine, however, I think it is worth not having to worry so much since shingles is so very common and can cause many undesirable side effects and, since so many parents have chosen to not get their children vaccinated for chicken pox these days.
Hugs and prayers..............CarolLentz
Susan-English
Susan-English

Carroll,

I think he said no because it is a live virus and I have a compromised immune system due to. 20 years on prednisone to control my idiopathic Giant cell hepatitis.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Thanks Susan.........I wasn't thinking about your long standing health problems when I commented. Hope I didn't confuse anyone.
Hugs and prayers............CarolLentz
deleted_user
deleted_user

Thanks for the info Carol. I had no idea it was so expensive.

I'm on Medicare, no Part D coverage because my prescriptions only run me about $30 a month. Medicare doesn't cover the shingles vaccination like they do with the flu vaccine.

I get my meds at Walgreen's, and even though I'm on their prescription plan, it will still cost me $220. Kind of shocking and definitely not in my budget at this time.

Honestly don't know if I ever had chicken pox, I'm 52 with two brothers and a sister, so even my mother has lost track of who had what disease when we were younger.

I'll just hope for the best and pray I don't get this.

I had an extremely bizarre rash about four months after being diagnosed with cirrhosis, covered my entire body, ranging from just a mild flaking of my skin to major, extremely painful loss of skin on my feet, knees and palms. My doctor thought it might be shingles, but then he said shingles only attacks one side of the body when it hits, it wouldn't affect my entire body.

Never knew what it was or why it happened, finally cleared up after a few weeks, but it's something I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy.
deleted_user
deleted_user

The symptoms you describe don't sound like shingles rash. It starts with a tender to the touch area and then a rash of blisters forms. It is on one side of the body but it can spread to go all the way around the body. (Old wives tale was that "if shingles lesions meet you will surely die. I don't know what part of that is true so don't worry about it).
The blistering will ooze a clear liquid and will last 10 days or longer. Then, once the virus has finished it's spreading, a scab forms that is equally as unsightly and uncomfortable. In the mean time, the patient is extremely tired, sick and generally miserable. You can't "touch" the lesions, i.e. with hands or with clothing because of pain. Even a light "breeze" across the lesion area will bring extreme discomfort.

They have meds now that they can give to treat the symptoms of shingles but it still just has to run it's course. I asked specifically and found out that you can have them repeatedly. In fact, after one breakout, the probability of having it again at some point time increases.

My husband is in the process now of getting his doctor to give him a prescription for the vaccine. The secondary insurance to medicare that he has will cover a portion of the vaccine and administration of. I am still waiting to see if my insurance company reimburses me any part of the cost that I paid out of pocket.

I pray that you stay free of the shingles. You are still relatively young so maybe less of concern for you. The concern increases with age. That is why many think it is "an old person's disease" but rest assured, anyone with the chicken pox virus can have shingles, young or old. Hugs and prayers..............CarolLentz
deleted_user
deleted_user

Found out I did have chicken pox as a child.

Talked to my PCP and he said at my age of 52, it's probably a little to soon to start worrying about it. Also told me it's only effective about 50% of the time, something they naturally don't mention in the ads.

Did get this years' flu shot. A little hint about getting vaccines: a retired nurse giving flu vaccinations at Costco several years ago told me to completely relax my arm, not tense any muscles at all.

For the first time in my life I had an absolutely painless flu vaccination, never felt a thing. It has been that way ever since. Just completely relax and you'll barely notice the injection. The shot I got two days ago I didn't even feel. Nurse was putting a small bandage over the injection site, I didn't even realize she was already done.

Wish somebody had told me this 20 years ago.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Yes, WTC. The relaxing of one's muscles when getting an injection is a good way to minimize the pain. Also, a good way to have less bruising afterward.

I don't know where your doctor is coming from about it being too soon to worry about shingles. I had them on my face, very close to my eye when I was in my mid 40's. My husband got his very serious infection of shingles when he was 50. I still have the trigiminial numbness and tingling under my eye where the leasions were but Thank God, they didn't leave me scarred. My doctor was surprised that they didn't scar.

Shingles are extremely painful and can make you very, very sick. As for how much protection the shot gives, I don't know. The nurse practitioner who gave me the shot told me that it is worth getting the shot. As for the cost, I was told that it is because the people who administer the shot have to have special training and because of the way the vaccine itself has to be stored. Also, it has a "short shelf life" although I don't know how long. I know that the Walgreen's that I got my shot at was very careful when giving the shot to me. There were two people in the room, the nurse practitioner and a tech. They both read the vial of vaccine and checked off on a form what the date was, as well as the expiration date on the vial as well as where they gave the shot (upper right/left arm is usual). They may have being overly cautious but that is a good thing.

The shot is an expensive shot but if you have ever had or been around anyone who has the shingles, you will know how bad it really is and, as in my case and my husband's case, choose to get the vaccine. I had no ill effect from the shot but was told that it could take up to a week for a reaction if I was going to have one.
I did have the flu shot on the same day (ok'd by my liver specialist) and was told that there were no contraindications. Also, I had the pneumonia shot about 2 years ago but the doctor said that vaccine, too, could be given at the same time if I had needed it.

As with anything else, doctors offer their "opinion" and nothing is written in stone. Hope this helps. Hugs and prayers........CarolLentz
MLTTexas
MLTTexas

I wish I had gotten the shingles vaccine before my transplant, because after transplant, you can't take it. And since I had chicken pox as a child and my immune system is down, I have a higher chance of getting shingles, or anything else for that matter. When you're on anti-rejection meds, your body doesn't fight off much of anything. That's why Hep C is more aggressive after a transplant.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Wow, Marilyn.....I had no idea that there would be so many things that we can no longer do post transplant. That might be a good thing to think about.....getting the things pre-transplant so as to be better protected later on.

I sure hope and pray that you never have the occsion to worry about shingles. That is one very unpleasant situation. My husband and I were at each other's throats all the time when he had shingles before we found out what it was and that is what was causing his horrible, nasty disposition. We lived in Florida close to West Palm and it was particularly hot out that August when he had them. Nothing pleased him......He couldn't get comfortable so he didn't sleep much at all....He sat up and smoked cigarettes and drank beer...anything to try to numb the misery. I was working at the hospital and getting as much overtime as I could. That is the only thing that save our marriage I think because if I hadn't found out that he was "so sick" I was ready to just throw him in the river and head back to Ohio!!!!!!

His case lasted about a month but his pain and tenderness of the area lasted well over a year. For me, I still have the trigimenial nerve pain on my face and don't think it will ever go away. But, we knew right away what I had after the experience with husband's shingles episode. I was lucky that it didn't go into my eye because it can cause blindness or so I have heard.

I pray for all of my friends here on the site.......Just know that.....
Hugs and prayers..........CarolLentz
deleted_user
deleted_user

I think having the shingles vaccine (for anyone who has ever had chicken pox) is a great idea. I have had shingles twice, fortunately there was no permanent damage and the second time I knew the symptoms and immediately got help. I was very lucky the first time since the shingles were on the right side of my face and pretty close to the eyes. For anyone who does not know, if the shingles get into the eye (and this happens), it may lead to blindness.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Forgot to mention that in my case the shot was covered by my insurance and given in the doctor's office. Even if it is not 100% effective, anything that lessens the chance that a person gets shingles is worth it.
deleted_user
deleted_user

So true sophie......The shingles I had was on my face, right side just under my eye and down the side of my nose. I didn't know what it was at first even though my husband had them preciously. I soon found out when my eye was swelling and I thought, oopps......can't be good.

I was surprised to find out that they can and go go into the eyes or nose and even the mouth. I have a cold sore every once in a while but I can't imagine having those kinds of blisters inside my mouth. (Would lose weight then, for sure)...........

I paid full price upfront when I got the shot but submitted the bill to my insurance along with a note showing where my liver specialist advised that I get the shot. They are paying for a portion of it now but I don't know how much reimbursment I will get in the long run. They take their good old time sending out money but want their premium payments monthly, on time, every time!
Hugs and prayers.............CarolLentz
deleted_user
deleted_user

Carol,

Are there any warning signs or early symptoms that shingles will strike?

If there are, does the vaccine work at all like Tamiflu which will lessen the symptoms if you do get the flu? Meaning if you know or suspect you've got it, does the vaccine help stop the damage, slow or stop the symptoms, etc.

I see my GI Monday and will ask his opinion, but still curious, it sounds like it's pretty obvious when you've got it, but was there anything that preceeded the attack?
deleted_user
deleted_user

Hi WTC........The only things husband and I both noticed with our singles episodes was that we had each felt sort of like the flu was coming on. Sort of achy and then, shortly thereafter, the blisters started. It does feel, at first, like something is irritating the skin but really soon after that, the red appears and the clear fluid filled blisters and fever. For my husband, they continued to spread for several days but for me, the blisters that first showed up were all I got. It took a good month for husband to start feeling at all well. For me, I had to keep "going" no matter what so I was down for just a week or so.

My husband had for a long time, the post-shingles pain while I still have the numbness in a triangle under my right eye. Every once in a while, even after all these years, I will get a twitching in that area and dull ache. It is that reminder from time to time that made me decide that the possible benefits of the vaccine far outway the actual break out should it happen again.

Another thing that I looked at in deciding to get the vaccine was the fact that so many parents are choosing now not to get vaccines for their school age children which may be wise or may not. I am with my grand kids regularly and if there is a "germ" out there, the littlest one will get it and then, so will I.

Medical professional's opinions on whether one can get shingles from someone having chicken pox and vice versa are great. I happen to know that you can get shingles from being with someone who has chicken pox as well as someone can get chicken pox from someone active with shingles virus.....have seen it a number of times. Also, it is vital that anyone pregnant avoid both of these illnesses though, I have not read up on all of the implications in that case.

My daughter (44 now) had chicken pox at age 7 and just about died with them. High fever of 104 and was totally out of it she was so sick. She was sick for 2 weeks and when we took her to the pediatrician in the beginning, I had to carry her in the back door of the doctor's office and sit in the hallway due to the type of virus she had. They did not want any other patient to come anywhere close to her. They even waited until the waiting room was cleaned out for the day of all patients before they let me carry her into an exam room. While we were there, the office staff was preparing to sanitize the area where Kim had been. That tells me that this is nothing to fool with. The doctor did give her a shot but we don't know if it really did any good or not and for the life of me, I can't remember what that shot contained. So many years ago.

Hope this helps and I am sure you will ask the pertinent questions of your doctor. I'll be interested to hear what he/she has to say.
Hugs and prayers..........CarolLentz