The shingles vaccine, Zostavax, contains a weakened chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus). The shingles vaccine helps stimulate your immune system to battle disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, reducing the risk of getting shingles in people aged 50 and older. In scientific studies, the shingles vaccine reduces the risk of developing shingles by about 50%.
Findings show that the shingles vaccine also helps people with shingles have shorter periods of nerve pain called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is extremely painful and can last anywhere from 30 days to months or even years after the rash has resolved. The nerve pain associated with shingles can be so severe in some people that it disrupts their lives.
Not only does the shingles vaccine help prevent shingles in the person receiving the immunization, but the shingles vaccine also helps prevent shingles in those who are around unvaccinated people. Because shingles is a contagious viral infection, the shingles vaccine works to stop the spread of the virus just like childhood immunizations for varicella or measles, mumps, and rubella.
If a person with shingles passes the virus to someone who has never had chickenpox, the newly infected person will develop chickenpox, not shingles.
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