Shingles

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Did you know?

About 1 in 5 people who get shingles may have severe nerve pain that lasts months to years after the rash has cleared. This is known as post-herpetic neuralgia.

The disease

  • Shingles is a painful skin rash with blisters. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. In some people who have had chickenpox, the virus becomes active again later in life and causes shingles.
  • You cannot get shingles from someone who has shingles. However, it is possible for someone who has not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine to get chickenpox from someone with shingles. This is uncommon and requires direct contact with the fluid from the shingles blisters.
  • About 1 out of 3 people will get shingles in their lifetime.
  • Shingles is more common in people over 50 years of age and in those with immune systems weakened by medication or disease.
  • Rare complications of shingles include pneumonia (an infection of the lungs), loss of hearing or vision, scarring, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), or death.
  • About 1 in 5 people who get shingles may have severe nerve pain that lasts months to years after the rash has cleared. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia.

The Vaccines

Shingrix

  • The Shingrix® vaccine is recommended for adults 50 years of age and older, including those who have had shingles disease or received Zostavax® II in the past and those who are not sure if they had chickenpox (varicella) infection in the past. 
  • You should wait at least 1 year before getting Shingrix® if you have had shingles disease or received Zostavax® II.
  • You should not get the vaccine if you currently have shingles disease.
  • If you have a weakened immune system, you should discuss getting the vaccine with your health care provider.
  • The vaccine is given as two doses, at least two to six months apart. 
  • The vaccine is not provided for free in B.C. It costs about $150/dose and can be purchased at some pharmacies and travel clinics. Call ahead to ask about vaccine availability. Some health insurance plans may cover the cost of the vaccine; check with your insurance provider. If you are covered by First Nations Health Benefits, please go here.
  • The Shingrix®  vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of getting shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia (a type of severe pain that lasts months to years after shingles) by more than 90%.
  • For those who still get shingles after being immunized, the vaccine can reduce pain, including the type of pain that lasts after shingles.

Zostavax II 

  • Zostavax® II may be given to adults 50 years of age and older who cannot get Shingrix® due to a life-threatening reaction to a previous dose of Shingrix® vaccine or any part of the vaccine, or due to the Shingrix® vaccine being unavailable.
  • Zostavax® II has been shown to reduce the risk of getting shingles by 50%.
  • For those who still get shingles after being immunized, the vaccine can reduce pain, including the type of pain that lasts after shingles.
  • Zostavax® II is given as 1 dose and costs about $200. Some health insurance plans may cover the cost of the vaccine; check with your provider.

Talk with your health care provider if you have questions about the shingles vaccines.

 

Date last updated: 
Sunday, Feb 16, 2020
Date last reviewed: 
Wednesday, Nov 01, 2017