Herpes zoster: Also called shingles, zona, and zoster. The culprit is the varicella-zoster virus. Primary infection with this virus causes chickenpox(varicella). At this time the virus infects nerves (namely, the dorsal root ganglia) where it remains latent (lies low) for years.

Shingles (herpes zoster) is a painful skin rash that develops on one side of the face or body. Shingles vaccine reduces the risk of developing shingles and the long-term pain that can follow. Your risk of shingles and long-term pain from the disease increases as you age.

People 60 years old and older should get shingles vaccine to prevent the disease. This is a one-time vaccination. There is no maximum age for getting the shingles vaccine.

Shingles vaccine is approved by the FDA for people 50 through 59 years old, CDC does not have a recommendation for routine use of shingles vaccine in people 50 through 59 years old. Adults 50 through 59 years who have questions about shingles vaccine should discuss the risks and benefits with a healthcare provider.

Anyone 60 years of age or older should get the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether they recall having had chickenpox, which is caused by the same virus as shingles. Studies show that more than 99 percent of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they don’t remember getting the disease.

Even if you have had shingles, you can still receive the shingles vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific time that you must wait after having shingles before receiving the shingles vaccine. The decision on when to get vaccinated should be made with your health care provider. Generally, a person should make sure that the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated.

Protection from the shingles vaccine lasts about 5 years. In adults vaccinated at age 60 years or older, protection from the vaccine decreases within the first 5 years after vaccination. Therefore, if you receive the vaccine before age 60 years you might not be protected later in life when your risk for shingles and its complications are greatest.

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