What is shingles?

Shingles is:

  • a painful skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.
  • Once you've had chickenpox, the virus remains in your body in a dormant or inactive stage. If the virus becomes active again you may get shingles.
  • Age, increased stress, and problems with the immune system may increase your chances of getting shingles.
  • The shingles rash usually occurs on one side of the body, in a line along a nerve pathway. The rash begins as a tingling in the area then forms a cluster of small red spots that often blister. The rash can be painful…

What is the shingles vaccine?

The shingles vaccine has:

  • been proven to reduce the risk of shingles by 50%. The shingles vaccine can also reduce pain in people who still get shingles after being vaccinated.

Who should get the shingles vaccine?

Who should get it:

  • A single dose of the shingles vaccine is FDA approved for adults 50 years of age and older.

Who should not get the shingles vaccine?

You should not get the shingles vaccine if you:

  • have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of shingles vaccine.

Have a weakened immune system because of current:

  • AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system,
  • treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, such as prolonged use of high-dose steroids.
  • cancer treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy.
  • cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma.
  • pregnancy, or possible pregnancy. Women should not become pregnant until at least 4 weeks after getting shingles vaccine.

What are the side effects of the shingles vaccine?

Mild-to-moderate problems:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Headache

Severe problems (rare) may include serious allergic reactions, with symptoms including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Hives
  • Pale skin
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dizziness

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