Vaccine - Shingles - Age 60 and Over - Preventive

This vaccine protects against the development of shingles, an infection that causes a painful rash. The pain may remain for months after the rash goes away.

This vaccine protects against the development of shingles, an infection that causes a painful rash. The pain may remain for months after the rash goes away.

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you had chickenpox, the virus can become active again years later. When the virus reactivates, it causes the rash and other symptoms associated with shingles.

One complication of shingles is chronic nerve pain at the site of the rash, even if the rash has healed. This pain is known as postherpetic neuralgia, which can affect a person's quality of life. Another complication is the development of scar tissue after the rash has healed.

  • The shingles vaccine is given to reduce the risk of developing shingles and the chronic pain that can result from this condition.
  • The vaccine will not treat shingles or post-shingles complications, such as chronic nerve pain.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the shingles vaccine for adults ages 60 and older. (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the vaccine for people ages 50 through 59. However, it is not currently a recommended immunization for adults in that age group.) You should not get the vaccine if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have an allergy to gelatin or neomycin
  • Have a weakened immune system due to:
  • Illness, such as HIV/AIDS, leukemia or lymphoma
  • Medication, such as steroids
  • Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation

The vaccine may be postponed if you have a fever or a moderate to severe acute illness.

Medicare usually does not cover the cost of shingles vaccine.

Contact your health care provider if you are ages 60 and older and have questions about the shingles vaccine. Here is a list of questions you can ask during your appointment.

  • Do you recommend this vaccine for me? Why or why not?
  • If you're between ages 50 and 60 and your health care professional recommends a shingles vaccine, ask why.
  • What are the side effects of this vaccine?
  • What are the risks if I do not get the vaccine?


Also known as:

Vaccine Shingles
Shingles Vaccine
Shingles Shot
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