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Shingles most commonly affects people over the age of 60. Known as Zostavax, the shingles vaccine is only given in 1 dose and is recommended for adults ages 60 and over 1.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
If untreated, shingles can last 2 to 4 weeks. Onset is often the result of a weaker immune system due to advancing age, stress, serious diseases such as cancer or AIDS, or physical stress to the body, such as that from sunburn.
- Shingles most commonly affects people over the age of 60.
- If untreated, shingles can last 2 to 4 weeks.
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In terms of vaccinations, the shingles vaccine is fairly new on the market, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006 1. Because Zostavax is a new vaccine, it means researchers do not have a significant amount of long-term research as to its efficacy. However, current estimations say the shingles vaccine is effective for 6 years at least, possibly longer in some individuals 1.
A booster shot may be given to patients after this time. While the vaccine is most effective in protecting those ages 60 to 69, it has been shown to reduce symptoms in older persons.
Who Should Not Get the Vaccine
The shingles vaccine is not recommended for certain people, due to the likelihood of an allergic reaction or to the weakening of the immune system, as the vaccine contains deadened forms of the chickenpox virus 1. Among those who should not get the shingles vaccine: those allergic to gelatin, neomycin (an antibiotic) or another component of the shingles vaccine; those who have active, untreated tuberculosis; those who have an autoimmune disorder, such as HIV/AIDS; those taking medications such as steroids or chemotherapy; and those who have had cancer affecting bone marrow or the lymphatic system 1.
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- The Pros and Cons of the Shingles Vaccine
- National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Division of Viral Diseases. Shingles (Herpes Zoster): Clinical Overview. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated August 14, 2019. cdc.gov
- National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Shingles Vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated January 25, 2018. cdc.gov
- John AR, Canaday DH. Herpes Zoster in the Older Adult. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2017;31(4):811-826. doi:10.1016/j.idc.2017.07.016
- Cohen KR, Salbu RL, Frank J, Israel I. Presentation and management of herpes zoster (shingles) in the geriatric population. P T. 2013;38(4):217–227.
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Shingles: Hope Through Research. Updated August 13, 2019. ninds.nih.gov
- White PF, Elvir lazo OL, Galeas L, Cao X. Use of electroanalgesia and laser therapies as alternatives to opioids for acute and chronic pain management. F1000Res. 2017;6:2161. doi:10.12688/f1000research.12324.1
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chickenpox Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know. Updated August 7, 2019. cdc.gov
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Shingles: Overview. 2014 Nov 19 [Updated 2019 Nov 21].Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279624/
- Albrecht, M. Shingles (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. Updated June 12, 2019.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Everyone Should Know About Zostavax. Updated January 25, 2018.
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.