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Shingles - Prevention

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. Adults ages 50 and older can get one dose, whether or not they've had shingles before.

Shingles: Should I Get a Shot to Prevent Shingles?

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.

If you have shingles, avoid close contact with people until after the rash blisters heal. It is especially important to avoid contact with people who are at special risk from chickenpox, such as:

  • 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.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 18, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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