Do you know what it feels like to have shingles?
I don’t. But then my editor mentioned a fascinating (read: alarming) TV commercial she had recently seen about shingles. Curious, I watched it online.
Here’s what I found out about the virus:
“It was like a red rash, very sore looking, kind of blistery, like somebody had set a bag of hot charcoal on my neck,” says Dennis Grogan, in the
commercial. “I was a firefighter for 24 years but I’ve never encountered such a burning sensation until I had the shingles.”
Wanting to know more about the commercials, I contacted Deb Wambold, in the communications department for Merck Vaccines.
Wambold told me that in April, Merck & Co., Inc. launched Shingles—The Inside Story, a national consumer disease awareness campaign that
includes TV spots featuring shingles sufferers describing their experiences.
The campaign also includes educational materials at physician offices and a microsite, which the company recently updated as part of the campaign. Merck
plans to add online ads later in the year.
“Our goal is to educate older adults about the appearance and severity of shingles,” Wambold says. “Shingles disease education is an important part in
helping increase consumer interest in vaccinations.”
In June, Merck launched Vaccinate, a national branded campaign in newspapers and magazines for its vaccine ZOSTAVAX (Zoster Vaccine Live), to go
along with its disease awareness efforts, Wambold says. The company updated its zostavax.com website for the campaign.
“The campaign highlights the shingles vaccine as something older adults should also consider and discuss with their physicians,” Wambold says.
Health care providers and consumers have given positive feedback about the shingles campaign, Wambold says.
“We have received numerous letters from prior shingles sufferers thanking us for our efforts to help educate consumers about shingles,” Wambold says.
After talking to Wambold, I took a look at the shingles microsite. Against a backdrop of
skin, a cartoon shingles virus spread and turned into a real picture of shingles. Big, bolded words popped up: “The virus that causes shingles may already
be inside of you.”
Oh, great. That’s just what I wanted to hear.