Understanding shingles: What can you do to protect yourself?

Shingles is a very common disease. Learn how the shingles vaccine can reduce your chances of contracting the disease or experiencing long-term pain.

It is estimated that nearly 50 percent of all Americans will contract the shingles virus sometime in their lifetime, making it a very common disease. The most prominent symptom associated with shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the face and/or body, but other symptoms including fever, headache, chills and an upset stomach can also occur when contracting this disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the risk of getting shingles increases with age. Shingles is most common in people 50 years and older, and those over the age of 70 are at risk of increased complications with severe and long-term pain being the most prevalent concern. If you are 60 years or older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends talking with your healthcare provider about getting a one-time dose of the shingles vaccine.

Shingles vaccine benefits
  • Studies show that the vaccine can reduce your risk of getting shingles by about half.
  • People who have already had shingles, or who have a chronic medical condition, can receive the vaccine.
  • If a person contracts shingles, after getting the vaccine, it can significantly reduce their chances of having long-term pain.

The CDC has a fact sheet that outlines what you need to know about shingles and the shingles vaccine. The fact sheet also provides information about how this vaccine has been tested and monitored, what a person should expect as far as side effects after receiving a shot and who can safely get the vaccine.

Michigan State University Extension recommends talking with your doctor about your immunization record, the shingles virus and prevention options.

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