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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Live Zoster (Shingles) Vaccine, ZVL: What you need to know
Shingles (also called herpes zoster, or just zoster) is a painful skin rash, often with blisters. Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox, the virus stays in your body and can cause shingles later in life.
You can't catch shingles from another person. However, a person who has never had chickenpox (or chickenpox vaccine) could get chickenpox from someone with shingles.
A shingles rash usually appears on one side of the face or body and heals within 2 to 4 weeks. Its main symptom is pain, which can be severe. Other symptoms can include fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach. Very rarely, a shingles infection can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis), or death.
For about 1 person in 5, severe pain can continue even long after the rash has cleared up. This long-lasting pain is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).
Shingles is far more common in people 50 years of age and older than in younger people, and the risk increases with age. It is also more common in people whose immune system is weakened because of a disease such as cancer or by drugs such as steroids or chemotherapy.
At least 1 million people a year in the United States get shingles.
A live shingles vaccine was approved by FDA in 2006. In a clinical trial, the vaccine reduced the risk of shingles by about 50% in people 60 and older. It can reduce the likelihood of PHN, and reduce pain in some people who still get shingles after being vaccinated.
The recommended schedule for live shingles vaccine is a single dose for adults 60 years of age and older.
Tell your vaccine provider if you:
With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of reactions.
After live shingles vaccination, a person might experience:
These events are usually mild and go away on their own.
Rarely, live shingles vaccine can cause rash or shingles.
Other things that could happen after this vaccine:
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.
The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. For more information, visit: www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/
Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would usually start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
Afterward, the reaction should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your doctor should file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS website at www.vaers.hhs.gov, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
VAERS does not give medical advice..
Vaccine Information Statement
Live Zoster Vaccine
Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Many Vaccine Information Statements are available in Spanish and other languages. See www.immunize.org/vis
Hojas de Información Sobre Vacunas están disponibles en Español y en muchos otros idiomas. Visite http://www.immunize.org/vis
Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
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