Shingles (or Herpes Zoster) is an often-forgotten disease. But those who have experienced a bout with the painful rash and blisters will attest that the shingles vaccine, Zostavax, is a must-have.
Shingles affects at least 1 million people in the United States each year. You might have heard that you can only get chicken pox once, but you probably haven’t heard that it can come back in a different way…
If you’ve had chickenpox- or even just the chickenpox vaccine- you’re at risk for shingles. Why? The Varicella Zoster virus, which causes chickenpox, stays in your body and can reappear many years later causing shingles. While shingles isn’t contagious, it’s more common among those with weakened immune systems, like the elderly.
The good news is, there is a vaccine to battle your chances of fighting shingles off each year. The Zostavax vaccine was licensed in 2006. In clinical trials, the vaccine prevented shingles in about half of people 60 years of age and older, as well as reduce the pain associated with the viral infection. A single dose of shingles vaccine is recommended for adults 60 years of age and older.
Our Shingles page
has important info about who should and should not get the Zostavax vaccine.