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Zoster (Shingles)

Shingles, also called zoster or herpes zoster virus, is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles later in life, because the chickenpox virus can hibernate in the body. If the immune system weakens because of aging, stress, disease, medications or other conditions, the virus may reawaken, causing shingles.

Shingles usually starts with a painful localized skin rash, often with blisters. Before the rash appears, there is often pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. This may happen anywhere from 1 to 5 days before the rash appears. The rash usually clears up within 2-4 weeks but the pain can last for months.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends a single dose of the shingles (Herpes Zoster) vaccine for adults 60 years or older to prevent shingles.

Zoster vaccine is covered by most private insurance and under Medicare Part D (pharmacy benefits).

More information:

Shingles Information from the CDC
Disease and vaccine information.

Medicare Coverage for Shingles Vaccine
Vaccine coverage information from Medicare.gov

Shingles Vaccine Information Statement
Who should get the vaccine, when to get it, and possible risks and reactions.

View personal stories of someone affected by Shingles at ShotbyShot.org.

Information for Health Professionals
Last modified on: 10/29/2015 9:23 AM