Prevent Shingles: Get Vaccinated
Shingles is a painful rash illness, which sometimes leads to long-term nerve pain. About 1 out of 3 people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime. Your risk of shingles increases as you get older. People 50 and older should get 2 doses of the new shingles vaccine to protect against this painful disease.
The New Shingles Vaccine Is the Best Way to Help Protect Yourself Against Shingles
CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older receive two doses of a new shingles vaccine called Shingrix. Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and is the preferred vaccine over Zostavax®, a shingles vaccine in use since 2006. Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and long-term nerve pain.
CDC still recommends Zostavax for healthy adults 60 years and older to prevent shingles. This shingles vaccine may be used in certain cases, such as when a person prefers Zostavax or requires immediate vaccination and Shingrix is not available.
Shingles vaccines are available in doctors’ offices and pharmacies. To find doctors’ offices or pharmacies near you that offer the vaccines, visit HealthMap Vaccine Finder.
If You’ve Had Chickenpox, You Are at Risk for Shingles
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant (inactive) in the body. For reasons that are not fully known, the virus can reactivate years later and cause shingles. Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another.
Shingles causes a painful, blistering skin rash that can last two to four weeks. For some people, the pain can last for months or even years after the rash goes away. This pain is called postherpetic neuralgia or PHN. It is the most common complication of shingles. The risk of shingles and PHN increase as you get older.
People have described pain from shingles as excruciating, aching, burning, stabbing, and shock-like. It has been compared to the pain of childbirth or kidney stones. This pain may also lead to depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Shingles can interfere with activities of daily life like dressing, bathing, eating, cooking, shopping, and travel. Shingles may lead to eye complications, including blindness.
If You're 50 or Older, Get the New Shingles Vaccine Called Shingrix
- Shingrix provides strong protection from shingles and long-term nerve pain.
- Get Shingrix even if you already had shingles, because you can get the disease more than once.
- You need 2 doses of Shingrix. Get the second dose 2 to 6 months after you get the first dose.
- You may have already got a different shingles vaccine called Zostavax. If you did, you still need 2 doses of Shingrix.
You may experience some short-term side effects because Shingrix causes a strong response in your immune system.
- Page last reviewed: July 30, 2018
- Page last updated: July 30, 2018
- Content source:
- National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, Division of Viral Diseases
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs