Two vaccines may help prevent shingles — the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine and the shingles (varicella-zoster) vaccine.
The varicella vaccine (Varivax) has become a routine childhood immunization to prevent chickenpox. The vaccine is also recommended for adults who've never had chickenpox. Though the vaccine doesn't guarantee you won't get chickenpox or shingles, it can reduce your chances of complications and reduce the severity of the disease.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the varicella-zoster vaccine (Zostavax) for adults age 50 and older. Like the chickenpox vaccine, the shingles vaccine doesn't guarantee you won't get shingles. But this vaccine will likely reduce the course and severity of the disease and reduce your risk of postherpetic neuralgia.
The shingles vaccine is used only as a prevention strategy, however. It's not intended to treat people who currently have the disease. The vaccine contains live virus and should not be given to people who have weakened immune systems.
Dec. 11, 2014
- Shingles: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/shingles/detail_shingles.htm. Accessed July 4, 2014.
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- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 4, 2014.
- Shingles: Clinical overview. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/hcp/clinical-overview.html. Accessed July 4, 2014.
- Papadakis MA, ed., et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2014. 53rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookId=330. Accessed June 28, 2014.
- Albrecht MA. Prevention of varicella-zoster virus infection: Herpes zoster. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 5, 2014.
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