Do you need the shingles vaccine?

Last Modified: 1/03/2020

Shingles vaccine

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every three people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime, with the risk increasing as you get older. Pamela Higgins, MD, PPG – Family Medicine, recommends that everyone over the age of 50 get the new shingles vaccine (Shingrix). The previous version of the shot (Zostavax®) was given to people over the age of 60.

“The shot provides protection against shingles as well as the pain that can follow shingles (post-herpetic neuralgia),” Dr. Higgins said. The new version contains a weakened form of the virus (the same virus that causes the chicken pox) and “primes” the immune system without actually causing the disease. “It’s especially important in either preventing or reducing the severity of the disease and the pain that can follow.”

Side effects of the shingles vaccine include:
  • redness, pain or tenderness at the site of the shot
  • headaches
  • chickenpox-like rash (uncommon)

For more on the vaccine and if it’s right for you, talk to your primary care physician.

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