Age 60 or Older? Get Shingles Vaccine

It's Official: CDC Recommends Shingles Vaccine Zostavax for Adults 60 and Older

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on May 15, 2008

May 15, 2008 -- The shingles vaccine Zostavax is now on the CDC's official list of recommended vaccines for people aged 60 and older.

Shingles (herpes zoster) is a skin rash, typically with blisters, that can cause severe chronic pain. It's caused by the chickenpox (varicella zoster) virus, which can lie dormant within the nerves and reactivate as shingles.

The risk of contracting shingles increases with age, starting around age 50, and the risk of complications from shingles rises after age 60, notes the CDC.

The FDA approved Zostavax, the first shingles vaccine, in May 2006. In October 2006, the CDC's vaccine advisory panel voted to make shingles vaccination routine for everyone aged 60 and older.

In October 2007, the CDC printed the advisory panel's recommendations for adult vaccines, including the shingles vaccine. Now, the CDC has finalized its shingles vaccination recommendation for everyone aged 60 and older by printing it in an early online edition of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC recommends a single dose of Zostavax for adults aged 60 and older, even if they've already had shingles.

According to the CDC, research has shown that the vaccine reduced the occurrence of shingles in people aged 60 and older by about 50% and by 64% in people in their 60s.

The most common side effects linked to Zostavax are redness, pain, tenderness, itching, and swelling at the injection site, as well headache, states the CDC.