Shingles can cause severe and very hard-to-treat pain that may last months or years.
The shingles vaccine protects against herpes zoster, more commonly referred to as shingles. Shingles are caused by the varicella zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.
The shingles vaccine is the best way to prevent shingles. The vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of getting shingles by 50%. For those who still get shingles after being immunized, the vaccine can reduce pain, including the type of pain that lingers after shingles.
Vaccines are very safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get shingles.
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 1 dose is needed for protection.
The shingles vaccine is not publicly funded (free) in BC. 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 provider. If you buy the vaccine at a travel clinic, a doctor or nurse on site will be able to immunize you. Most pharmacists in B.C. are also able to immunize. If you want to be immunized by your doctor, find out if they have a supply of the shingles vaccine.
For more information about the shingles vaccine, including the benefits, possible reactions after the vaccine and who should not get the vaccine, see the Shingles Vaccine HealthLink BC File.
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. About 1 out of 3 people will get shingles in their lifetime.
If you're a health care provider looking for information on immunization, please visit the Health Professionals section of the BCCDC website. There you can find clinical resources, immunization courses, print resources for patients and more.
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