What you need to know about shingles and the shingles vaccine
What is Shingles?
Shingles, also known as zoster or herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash, often with blisters, that is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone, even if you are healthy, who has had chickenpox can develop shingles because the virus remains in the nerve cells of the body after chickenpox goes away and can reappear many years later causing shingles. You can’t catch shingles from another person with shingles. However, a person who has never had chickenpox (or chickenpox vaccine) could get chickenpox from someone with shingles.
The most common complication of shingles is severe pain where the rash was. This pain can be debilitating. There is no treatment or cure for this pain. Other symptoms of shingles can include fever, headache, chills and upset stomach. Shingles may also lead to serious complications involving the eye. Very rarely, shingles can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems,blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis), or death.
Facts about Shingles
- There are more than 1 million cases of shingles each year in the United States.
- One out of every three people 60 years old or older will get shingles.
- One out of six people older than 60 years who get shingles will have severe pain. The pain can last for months or even years
- For about one in five people, severe pain can continue even long after the rash clears up. This is called post-herpectic neuralgia.
- One in four people who get shingles will experience some type of complication.
How can you protect yourself from shingles?
Adults 60 years old or older should talk to their healthcare professional about getting a one-time dose of the shingles vaccine.This vaccine was licensed in 2006 and in clinical trials; the vaccine reduced the risk of shingles by 50%. It can also reduce pain in people who still get shingles after being vaccinated.
Facts about the Shingles Vaccine
- A single dose of shingles vaccine is recommended for adults 60 years of age and older.
- Persons who have already had shingles or who have a chronic medical condition can receive the shingles vaccine
- In a clinical trial involving thousands of adults 60 years old and older, the vaccine reduced the risk of shingles by about half. Even if the shingles vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting shingles, it can still reduce the chance of having long-term pain.
Is the Shingles Vaccine Safe?
The shingles vaccine is a safe way to protect your health. A vaccine, like any medicine, could possibly cause serious problems,such as an allergic reaction. However, the risk of a vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. No serious problems have been identified with the shingles vaccine. Vaccine side effects are usually mild and temporary. Some people experience mild reactions that last up to a few days, such as headache or soreness, swelling, or itching where the shot was given.
Who should not get the shingles vaccine?
Shingles (Zoster) vaccine is available at the following locations
You may also receive your Shingles vaccination at many other locations, including your doctor’s office, health clinics, and pharmacies. If you need assistance in locating Shingles vaccine, visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder website.
Don't Wait, Vaccinate!
Talk to your healthcare professional to make sure you are up-to-date with the vaccines recommended for you. For more information on vaccines or to take an adult vaccine quiz to find out which vaccines you might need, go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults.