Shingles is extremely common. One in three adults will contract this painful rash, which is caused by the same virus as chicken pox.
About one million people get shingles each year, and affects people of any age, though it is most common after age 50.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults 50 and older get two doses of the Shingrix vaccine to prevent shingles. The vaccine is also recommended for adults 19 and older who have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy.
Zostavax, the previously recommended shingles vaccine, is no longer available in the United States.
The Shingrix vaccine is more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles and related complications, according to the CDC. In adults with weakened immune systems, the vaccine is up to 91 percent effective.
Your risk of getting shingles and having serious complications increases as you get older. The most common complication is long-term nerve pain, known as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).
Shingrix requires two shots, scheduled two to six months apart. The shots tend to cause more arm pain and achiness than the old vaccine.
Shingrix side effects can last a few days but rarely turn serious. “That’s better compared to the potential pain of shingles,” Dr. Shalauta explains.
The Shingrix vaccine is recommended even if you previously received the old vaccine. Zostavax used to be recommended for people 60 and older and provided protection for five years.
The CDC recommends not to get the Shingrix vaccine if you ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or after a dose of Shingrix.
Delay getting the vaccine if you:
- Currently have shingles
- Currently are pregnant
- Currently have a moderate or severe illness