Anyone who has had chickenpox may get shingles later in life. But there's a vaccine that may help prevent shingles or make it less painful if you do get it. The shingles vaccine(What is a PDF document?) is known as Zostavax. It is recommended for adults ages 60 and older, whether or not they've had shingles before. You can ask your doctor or pharmacist about getting the vaccine at age 50 to 59 instead. But insurance may not cover it.
If you have never had chickenpox, you may avoid getting the virus that causes both chickenpox and later shingles by receiving the varicella vaccine.
If you have never had chickenpox and have never gotten the chickenpox vaccine, avoid contact with people who have shingles or chickenpox. Fluid from shingles blisters is contagious and can cause chickenpox (but not shingles) in people who have never had chickenpox and who have never gotten the chickenpox vaccine.
- Pregnant women, infants, children, or anyone who has never had chickenpox.
- Anyone who is currently ill.
- Anyone with a weak immune system who is unable to fight infection (such as someone with HIV infection or diabetes).
If you cover the shingles sores with a type of dressing that absorbs fluid and protects the sores, you can help prevent the spread of the virus to other people.