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What is shingles?

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash. Generally, people only develop shingles once, but it’s possible to get it multiple times. Shingles is most common in people age 50 and older.

What are the symptoms of shingles?

Shingles typically produces a painful rash that blisters and scabs over in 7 to 10 days and clears up within 2 to 4 weeks.

One to 5 days before the rash appears, people may experience pain, itching, tingling, or numbness in the area where the rash will develop.

The rash usually erupts in a single stripe on either the left or right side of the body, or sometimes the face, along a nerve path. It could develop on the arm, thigh, head – even the ear or eye. It’s most common on the chest and abdomen. Symptoms of shingles may also include fever, headache, and a sense of not feeling well.

What causes shingles?

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox, you have the shingles virus inside you already, but it is inactive. As you get older, your immune system naturally weakens, increasing your risk of the virus reactivating as shingles.

Is shingles contagious?

No, shingles cannot be passed from one person to another. However, the virus can be spread from a person with shingles to someone who has never had chickenpox or to someone who is not protected against chickenpox.

What’s the new shingles vaccine I’ve heard about?

Shingrix is a vaccine for the prevention of shingles in adults age 50 and older. The CDC recommends Shingrix as the preferred vaccine for the prevention of shingles, replacing Zostavax. Two doses of Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles.

Who should get Shingrix?

Healthy adults age 50 and older should get two doses of Shingrix, with the second administered 2 to 6 months after the first. You should get Shingrix even if in the past you had shingles, received Zostavax, or are not sure if you had chickenpox.

Does insurance cover Shingrix?

Many insurance plans cover this vaccine with as little as a $0 co-pay. A pharmacy team member can check your insurance for you before administering the vaccine.