Protect Yourself Against Shingles Protect Yourself Against Shingles
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Protect Yourself against Shingles: Get Vaccinated
Almost one out of three people in America will develop shingles during their lifetime. If you are age 60 years or older, get vaccinated to reduce your risk of developing the often painful disease.
If you are age 60 years or older, ask your doctor about the shingles vaccine.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a disease that causes a painful skin rash. In addition, shingles can lead to severe pain that can last for months or even years after the rash goes away, a condition known as post-herpetic neuralgia. Shingles can lead to other serious complications as well, including eye problems (when shingles affects the eye). Pain from shingles has been described as excruciating, aching, burning, stabbing, and shock-like. It has been compared to the pain of childbirth or kidney stones. The pain from shingles can cause depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite and weight loss. Shingles can interfere with activities of daily living like dressing, bathing, eating, cooking, shopping, and travel.
Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays in the body in a dormant state. For reasons that are not fully known, the virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles.
Almost one out of three people in America will develop shingles during his or her lifetime. Last year, nearly 1 million Americans experienced the condition. Older people are at greater risk of developing shingles; about half of all cases occur among men and women age 60 years or older.
Is Shingles Contagious?
Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another. However, a person with shingles can transmit the virus that causes shingles to others. If a person who has never had chickenpox is infected with VZV, he or she will develop chickenpox, not shingles.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk of Getting Shingles?
The only way to reduce the risk of developing shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia, the long-term pain that can follow shingles, is to get vaccinated. Adults age 60 years or older can receive a single dose of the shingles vaccine, called Zostavax®. See Shingles Vaccination: What You Need to Know.
Some people in this age group should wait to get vaccinated, or should not get vaccinated at all, if they have a weakened immune system. See Who Should NOT Get the Vaccine.