Who should get the shingles vaccine?

Shingles vaccine

Shingles is a disease you definitely want to avoid. That’s why for most adults over 50, getting the shingles vaccine should be a priority.

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you have chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in your nerves and flare up years later. People with weakened immune systems are most at risk for shingles, including those:

  • Older than 50
  • Having diseases, such as HIV/AIDS or cancer
  • Undergoing cancer treatments
  • Taking certain medications

Shingles commonly emerges as a rash in a single stripe on either side of the torso or on either side of the face. Other symptoms include pain, burning, numbness, tingling, fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach. Most cases last 3-5 weeks, though there could be longer-term side effects.

There are two types of shingles vaccines, Zostavax and the newer Shingrix. Most doctors recommend Shingrix unless it cannot be tolerated for some reason, such as allergies. Shingrix is 91-97% effective at preventing shingles. It’s also 89-91% effective in preventing postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN. PHN is a chronic painful condition that sometimes follows shingles.

Doctors recommend that most adults age 50 or older get the Shingrix vaccine, though the risk of shingles rises sharply at age 60. Even if you never had chickenpox, or if you received the Zostavax vaccine, you should consider the Shingrix vaccine.

Some people should not get the shingles vaccine, including those who:

  • Are allergic to gelatin or other ingredients in the vaccine
  • Have weakened immune systems
  • Are undergoing cancer treatments
  • Have cancers that affect the bone marrow or lymphatic system
  • Are or might be pregnant
  • Have had shingles in the last three years

Consult with your doctor to see if you should receive the shingles vaccine.

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2 thoughts on “Who should get the shingles vaccine?

    • Hi, James. According to Medicare’s website at https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/shingles-shots, the shingles vaccine isn’t covered by Medicare Parts A or B, which means it is not usually covered under any Medicare supplement insurance plans. However, it can be covered under a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. If you have a Part D plan, you can check the plan’s list of covered drugs, called a formulary, to see if the shingles vaccine is covered. Thank you for the great question! If you have additional questions, please feel free to call us at 1-800-236-1448.

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