Guidelines have recently changed regarding this vaccine, so it is good to know if you need a shingles vaccine, or not. The shingles vaccine, Zostavax, is indicated for people age 50 and older to prevent zoster (shingles.) Shingles is a painful blistering skin condition that results because of reactivation of the chicken pox virus. The shingles vaccine reduces the risk of acquiring shingles by 51%. Another plus is that the common and debilitating complication of shingles, a pain syndrome after the lesions resolve called post herpetic neuralgia (PNH,) is reduced by 66% in patients who receive the vaccine.
In March 2011, the indication for the vaccine was changed to include everyone over the age of 50, instead of 60. In the age group 50-59 the vaccine reduces the incidence of shingles by 70% which is impressive. Zostavax is a single dose vaccine so you only need it once, and there is no need for a booster.
Who can’t get it? People with immune diseases like lymphoma, leukemia, AIDS, or if you are pregnant you cannot take the shingles vaccine. Another thing to know is that whether or not you have immunity to chicken pox doesn’t matter prior to receiving the vaccine.
- Dr O