From the January 2011 Senior Circle publication
Q: I've read about the new shingles vaccine. Do I need it?
A: "If you're 60 or older, you should consider getting the vaccine," according to Pranjal Patel, MD, a family practitioner with Lake Porter Medical Group. "The vaccine may help you avoid getting shingles or prevent a recurrence of the painful skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox," he said. Shingles is most common in people 50 years old or older, those with medical conditions that keep the immune system from working properly, or those receiving immunosuppressive drugs.
The shingles vaccine, Zostavax, is given as a single injection, usually in the upper arm and typically covered by insurance. Zostavax contains a weakened chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus), helping to stimulate your immune system. Studies show that the shingles vaccine reduces the risk of developing shingles by about 50 percent. Findings also show that the shingles vaccine helps people who develop shingles to have shorter periods of nerve pain called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which can be extreme and last from 30 days to many months, said Patel.