Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccination

What it is:

The varicella zoster virus causes shingles, this is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in the body but can reactivate years later, causing shingles. 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime. There are an estimated 1 million cases of shingles each year in this country. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014) The rash can be severely painful, unsightly, and can cause a person to miss multiple days of school or work. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends shingles vaccine for people aged 60 years and older. Even people who have had shingles can receive the vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014)


Shingles is a rash that develops on one side of the face or body, and is very painful. The rash forms blisters that typically scab over in about a week, and the clear up within 2 to 4 weeks. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014)

Additional symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Upset stomach

Adverse Effects:

The most common complication of shingles is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN causes severe pain in the areas where they had the shingles rash, even after the rash clears up. It is rare but, shingles can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation, or death. (Kaiser Permanente 2015)

Risk Factors for Developing Shingles:

  • Those who have become infected with the chickenpox virus are susceptible to becoming infected with shingles.
  • Some people have a greater risk of developing shingles, This includes people with immune deficiencies, and those who receive immunosuppressive drugs, such as steroids and drugs that are given after organ transplantation.
  • The risk of shingles increases as you get older. About half of all cases occur in men and women 60 years old or older. (Legacy Health 2016)

Prevention and Treatment:


The only way to reduce the risk of developing shingles is to get vaccinated.


There are many antiviral medications available to treat shingles. These medications may shorten the length of the disease, and lessen the severity. These medications must begin immediately in order to be effective. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014)


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, November 25). Clinical Overview. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, November 25). Prevention & Treatment. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, November 25). Vaccination. Retrieved from

Kaiser Permanente. (2015, October 12). Shingles. Retrieved from

Legacy Health. (2016, June 1). Shingles. Retrieved July 11, 2016, from,P00328