The Shingles Vaccine

What is Shingles?

Shingles is a rash that is usually located on one side of the body. The rash will begin as a cluster of small red spots which often turn into blisters. The rash can be painful. Shingles rashes usually last up to 30 days and, for most people, the pain associated with the rash lessens as it heals. Some people have lingering pain after the rash is no longer visible. This pain, which can be severe and debilitating, is called post-herpetic neuralgia.

What causes shingles?

You can’t catch shingles from someone who has it. Shingles is a virus caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you have had chickenpox, the virus can stay in your nervous system for many years.  The virus has the potential to become active again and give you shingles. You have an increased chance of getting shingles if you have problems with your immune system and as you age.


What is Zostavax?

Zostavax is a vaccine used to help your immune system protect you from getting shingles. Zostavax contains a weakened chickenpox virus. In clinical trials the vaccine decreased the risk of developing shingles by 50%, and reduced the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia by 67%.

Zostavax is NOT a treatment for shingles – it helps reduce your risk of getting shingles in the future.

Bremo Pharmacy can give the Zostavax Vaccine to those who are good candidates.

What if I get shingles after receiving Zostavax?

If you get shingles after being vaccinated with Zostavax your symptoms should be milder. The pain that is associated with the rash/blisters from shingles should be less intense. Zostavax does not protect everyone.  Some people who receive the vaccine may still get shingles, but will likely have a milder case.

Who should be vaccinated?

The Centers for Disease Control recommend that people over the age of 60 years old receive the vaccine. It is best to get the vaccine as soon as possible to offer the greatest protection.  Ask your Bremo pharmacist if the Zostavax vaccine is right for you!

How is Zostavax given?

Zostavax is given as an injection under the skin.

How often should I get Zostavax?

You only need one Zostavax injection in your lifetime, it is recommended to get the vaccine earlier to have a greater length of protection.

What are some side effects of Zostavax?

The most common side effects are:

  • Redness, pain, itching, swelling, hard lump, warmth, or bruising where the shot was given
    • This should go away within one week
  • Headache

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