Shingles

Did you know?

About 1 in 5 people who get shingles may have severe pain that lasts months to years after the rash has cleared. This is known as post-herpetic neuralgia.

The disease

  • Shingles is a painful skin rash with blisters. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. In some people who have had chickenpox, the virus becomes active again later in life and causes shingles.
  • You cannot get shingles from someone who has shingles. However, it is possible for someone who has not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine to get chickenpox from someone with shingles. This is uncommon and requires direct contact with the fluid from the shingles blisters.
  • About 1 out of 3 people will get shingles in their lifetime.
  • Shingles is more common in people over 50 years of age or in those with immune systems weakened by medication or disease.
  • Rare complications of shingles include pneumonia (an infection of the lungs), loss of hearing or vision, scarring, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or death.

The vaccine

  • The shingles vaccine is recommended for people 60 years of age and older, however anyone 50 years of age and older can get the vaccine.
  • Only one dose is needed for protection.
  • This vaccine is not provided for free in B.C. You can buy the shingles vaccine at most travel clinics and pharmacies for about $200. Some health insurance plans may cover the cost of the vaccine; check with your insurance provider.