5 Important Reasons to Get the Shingles Vaccine

Shingrix vaccine recommended for adults 50 and older

Shingrix vaccine is recommended for adults 50 and older.

Shingrix vaccine recommended for adults 50 and older

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.

“It’s extremely common, and the older you are when you get it, the more painful it tends to be,” says Mark Shalauta, MD, a family medicine physician at Scripps Clinic Rancho Bernardo.

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.

5 reasons to get the shingles vaccine

1. Shingles vaccine is more than 90 percent effective

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.

2. The older you are, the worse shingles gets

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).

3. Vaccine side effects are short-term, less severe than shingles illness

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. 

4. Your old shingles vaccination may no longer be protecting you

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.

5. Certain people should not get the shingles vaccine

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

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