Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can you get shingles more than once?"
Just got over a case of shingles. Can I get it again in the future? I sure don't want to.
Most people that experience a case of shingles (varicella zoster virus) will boost their immunity to the virus and never suffer another from this painful condition again. Some studies suggest that about 4% of patients will go on to develop a second case of shingles later in life. The chances of this occurring are increased if the patient's immune system is weakened, through such mechanisms as chemotherapy or HIV infection. While there is no specific data looking at the use of the shingles vaccine (Zostavax) in patients that have had shingles before, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a single dose of the vaccine for patients over the age of 60 regardless of whether or not they have suffered from shingles before. The vaccine has been shown to be very effective in a number of ways in the studies looking at use in the population over the age of 60. Patients that have been vaccinated were about half as likely to get shingles. For those patients that did get shingles, patients that were vaccinated experienced a less severe and shorter course of pain/discomfort than those patients who did not get vaccinated. Additionally, the risk of developing post-herpetic neuralgia (a painful condition that can linger after the resolution of the shingles rash) was significantly reduced with the vaccine. If you have any questions at all about shingles or the vaccine, you should speak to your primary care physician.
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