A couple weeks ago I had an older patient in the office who had just recently dealt with a case of shingles. She was confused because she thought she wouldn’t get shingles because she had gotten chickenpox as child. Isn’t that how it works? Well, kind of. But there’s more to it, and unfortunately today’s healthcare system is doing things to children that put their parents’ and grandparents’ at risk for developing this painful, miserable thing we call shingles.
If fact, shingles is tremendously more common in older individuals nowadays than it used to be. In case you’re not aware, some background information might be necessary: Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. In children the virus results in chickenpox, while in adults the same virus results in shingles. But here’s the thing: as an adult the symptoms caused by this virus are incredibly painful, especially in older adults. When you get chickenpox as a child the virus stays in your body in the spinal ganglion, which are specific nerve cells. Normally the virus is dormant, so you don’t have any symptoms.
So why are we seeing so many more cases of shingles than we used to? Well, as it turns out, the practice of vaccinating children against chickenpox has had the undesirable effect of reducing parents’ and grandparents’ immunity to the virus, making them more susceptible to shingles. Normally, adults who have had chickenpox in the past are repeatedly exposed to children with the active natural virus. This exposure results in a process that boosts the body’s natural immunity that has already been developed to the virus. However, vaccinated children are less likely to get chickenpox, and the adults around them don’t experience the protective rise in immune function, thus the painful result of shingles.
It’s been admitted by proponents of the chickenpox vaccine that it has, in fact, caused the increase in shingles. What was their solution? They created a vaccine for shingles–and, of course, made millions of dollars in the process.