In the U.S., currently 1 million people get shingles every year, and about one out of every three people will get shingles in their lifetime. Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles. However, the risk of shingles increases as you get older. About half of all cases occur in men and women 60 years old or older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for all adults over age 60. Nonetheless, a recent study finds that just one in five people in this age group have been vaccinated. Even people who have had shingles already can receive the vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease.
The vaccine was first approved in 2006, and the number of people getting vaccinated each year continues to rise, but are still not at goal levels. The Healthy People 2020 initiative set a goal of having 30 percent of people over 60 vaccinated by 2020.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox, you are at risk of getting shingles. The rash generally appears as red blisters on the face or side of the body. The most common complication is severe pain that can be long-term. In rare cases, shingles can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation, or death.
Protect yourself against shingles. Adults 60 years old or older, especially, should talk to their healthcare professional about getting a one-time dose of the shingles vaccine.
Source: Zhang D, Johnson K, Newransky C, Acosta C. Herpes Zoster Vaccine Coverage in Older Adults in the U.S., 2007–2013. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 2017 Jan; 52(1): e17-e23.