Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

Why vaccinate adults against shingles?

  • About one in five people who get shingles develop post-herpatic neuralgia (PHN), a long-lasting hard-to-treat pain.  PHN diminishes quality of life and functional capacity to a degree comparable to congestive heart failure, heart attack, type II diabetes, or major depression.
  • The lifetime risk of developing shingles is estimated to be about 30 percent.
  • As our population ages, we can expect the absolute number of cases to increase - about 98 percent of US adults have had chickenpox and are, therefore, at risk for shingles.

Which adults need shingles vaccine?

  • The shingles vaccine is recommended for all adults age 60 and older.
Did you know...
shingles can cause a severe and very hard-to-treat pain that may last months or years?

What happens when someone gets shingles?

  • Shingles causes a painful, itchy, blistering rash, usually on one side of the body or face. Shingles can develop in the eyes and cause vision loss.
  • About one to five days before the rash appears, people may experience a pain, itching, or tingling in the areas where the rash will form.
  • Even after the rash is gone, people may experience a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN causes intense pain where the rash was.
  • PHN pain can be very hard to treat, especially in older people.

Why is shingles vaccine important?

  • The vaccine is the best way to reduce your chance of developing shingles or, if you do get it, reducing your chances of getting the long-lasting PHN pain.
  • Anyone who has ever had chickenpox is at risk of getting shingles; there is no way to know when shingles may strike.
  • About one million shingles cases occur in the US every year and almost one in three Americans will get shingles in their lifetime.

FAQ: How are chickenpox and shingles related?
Chickenpox and shingles are caused by the same virus. The virus that gave you chickenpox as a child continues to “hide” in the body long after chickenpox has gone away. Years or even decades later, the virus can reactivate and cause shingles. It travels along nerve endings toward your skin and causes pain, itching, and the shingles rash.