New Shingles Vaccine

January 14, 2019
Stephen P. Lorino, MD
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Herpes zoster (shingles) results from reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, or chickenpox.  We are unable to predict who will have an outbreak of shingles; however, it does tend to occur more often in individuals over 50 years of age.  It is possible to have recurrences.  Shingles is characterized by a very painful, blistering, rash affecting one side of the body, commonly described as feeling like a sunburn prior to seeing the blisters.  The rash is usually appears in a dermatomal or linear-type distribution wrapping around the body.  The previous shingles vaccine, called Zostavax, is effective at about a 70% rate.  There is a new shingles vaccine, called Shingrix, with an effective rate of about 95%.  We do recommend vaccination with the newer shingles vaccine, even if you have had the old shingles vaccine.  Shingrix is a non-live vaccine, meaning you will not get shingles from it.  If you have had a recent shingles outbreak, you will typically have immunity from getting shingles for about 3 years.  It is at that time we recommend the shingles vaccine.  Most patients would benefit from Shingrix vaccine.  Discuss with your doctor if this would be an option for you.