Shingles is a viral disease that causes a painful skin rash. While the symptoms are extremely unpleasant for anyone who contracts the disease, they are especially severe for older people. That is why people ages 60 and older should receive the shingles vaccine Zostavax.
“Studies have shown that Zostavax reduced the risk of shingles by about half for people 60 and older,” says Christopher Montgomery, MD, family practice physician at Physicians Park Primary Care. “It does not matter whether you have had chickenpox – which is the same virus – or shingles previously.”
While the shingles vaccine can help prevent shingles, it is not meant as a treatment for the disease. If you already have shingles, you should wait until the rash disappears before receiving the vaccination.
“If you have a weakened immune system, you should not receive the vaccination,” says Montgomery.