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Is it possible to prevent shingles with a vaccine?
In 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a shingles vaccine (Zostavax). Currently, the FDA has approved its use for individuals age 50 years and older, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended its use for individuals age 60 years and older. It is a live attenuated vaccine that boosts the immune system and only needs to be administered one time. Ongoing studies are underway to determine how long the vaccine confers protection. It has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing shingles by about 60%, as well as reducing the incidence of postherpetic neuralgia by approximately 66%.
The shingles vaccine is not recommended during pregnancy or for those with weakened immune systems from disease or immunosuppressive medications, as it is a live vaccine. It is also not recommended for cases of active shingles or for those who have already developed postherpetic neuralgia. However, even if you have had shingles in the past, the vaccine can still be administered to help prevent future recurrent shingles.
The vaccination can be administered at a pharmacy or at your doctor's office. If you are vaccinated with the shingles vaccine, it is safe to be around children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals, as there are no documented cases of people getting chickenpox from a recently vaccinated person.