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Public health urging people to utilize shingles vaccine

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Southwest Public Health District is encouraging those 60 years of age or older to take advantage of the shingles vaccine, a news release from the district indicates.

Along with post-herpetic neuralgia, shingles can cause eye problems, depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite and weight loss, officials say.

The disease is caused by the same virus responsible for chickenpox. After someone recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the body only to reactivate without warning years later. Shingles can't be passed from one person to another, however, a person with shingles can pass the virus to somebody else.

If someone who has never had chickenpox is infected with it, they will develop chickenpox, not shingles, health officials say.

The only protection against shingles is a vaccination. Doses of the vaccine are available at local health departments, public health officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't have a recommendation for routine use of the vaccine for people 50-59 years of age, but it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for people 50 and older and is available by prescription from a health care professional.