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Q.

If you have never had chickenpox, should you get the shingles vaccine Zostavax?

 

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A.
Although you were never diagnosed with chickenpox, it is very likely you were infected during childhood. Many people who contract the virus have minor symptoms and don't experience the classic rash.

Even if you were never infected, you are still a candidate for Zostavax. Zostavax is the vaccine recommended for people age 60 and over to help prevent shingles and decrease the risk of persistent nerve pain following an episode of shingles (called post-herpetic neuralgia).

The active ingredient in Zostavax is the same as the ingredient in the chickenpox vaccine for kids, but the dose in Zostavax is 14 times stronger. For you, the vaccine makes sense. It protects you from getting chickenpox in case you never were infected. If you were infected and didn't know it, Zostavax decreases your risk of getting shingles.

Copyright 6/29/2007 Harvard University. All rights reserved. HHP/HMS content licensing handled by Belvoir Media Group.

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