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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Shingles Vaccine for Adults: Side Effects, When to Get the Shot, and More

Shingles Vaccine: Expert Q&A

Never Too Late to Seek Protection Against 'Debilitating' Virus

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Shingles can make everyday tasks -- from getting dressed to getting into bed -- a painful proposition. The culprit behind this agonizing rash, which is especially common in older people, is the same virus responsible for another common but debilitating condition: chicken pox.

"Most of us never get rid of the chicken pox virus," William Schaffner, MD, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, tells WebMD. "It lies dormant like a bear in a cave during winter. When a person gets shingles, the virus has reawakened."

Fortunately, a vaccine is available that greatly reduces the risk of shingles. Schaffner, who is also a professor in Vanderbilt University School of Medicine's infectious diseases division and chair of the school’s department of preventive medicine, spoke with WebMD about getting protected.

Which adults need the shingles vaccine?

"It is recommended for everyone age 60 or older who is not profoundly immunocompromised, which means their immune system is functioning and they have not recently had treatments like chemotherapy or high doses of steroids."

When do I need to get it, and how often?



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