What is shingles (Herpes Zoster)?

Shingles is a painful skin rash that is caused by the Varicella zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After recovery from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the body and if re-activated later in life, causes shingles. You cannot spread shingles from one person to another. However, if a person who has never had chickenpox were to have direct contact with the fluid from a shingles blister, they could go on to develop chickenpox. Symptoms of shingles include the following, normally in this order:

  • Pain, itching, and tingling in a localized area about 1-5 days before the rash appears (these are known as prodromal symptoms).
  • Painful rash and blisters, sometimes accompanied by fever, headache, chills, and an upset stomach.
  • Scabbing of the blisters beginning 7-10 days after the rash appears.
  • The rash and blisters normally clear up in 2-4 weeks. However, some patients may develop post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) following shingles.
  • PHN is severe pain in the area of the rash even after the rash has cleared. PHN usually resolves in several weeks to months; however, in some patients, it may persist for years.

Did You Know?

  • It is estimated that almost 1 in 3 people in the United States will develop shingles at some point in their lives
  • It is estimated that up to 50% of untreated people over 60 years of age will develop PHN after shingles

Who Should Get the Shingles Vaccine (Zostavax®)?

The one-time shingles vaccine is recommended for adults 60 years of age and older. The vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people as young as 50 years of age. However, the CDC has not yet published recommendations specific for people 50-59 years of age. The vaccine is available should you fall into this age group; however, if you wish to receive it, we will need a prescription from your physician prior to administration.

Who Should Not Get the Shingles Vaccine?

If you have any severe allergies, please talk with your physician first.

You should not get the shingles vaccine if you:

  • Have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, neomycin, or any component of the vaccine
  • Have a currently weakened immune system because of:
    • AIDS or another disease that affects your body’s ability to fight an infection
    • Medications that affect the immune system (e.g. steroids)
    • Cancer treatment (e.g. chemotherapy or radiation)
    • Cancer that affects your bone marrow or lymph system (e.g. leukemia, lymphoma)
    • Are pregnant or might be pregnant

How Much Does the Shingles Vaccine Cost?

Some insurance companies DO cover the shingles vaccine, and the cost is variable depending on patients’ plan and co-pay amounts. The cash price for the shingles vaccine at is $222.13. Please call the pharmacy with any questions regarding cost and insurance coverage.

Do I Need an Appointment for the Shingles Vaccine?

Yes. We may need to order the vaccine by request so please call us to check availability. If we do need to order the vaccine, a pharmacist will contact you to set up an appointment for administration.

Where Can I Get More Information Regarding Shingles and the Vaccine?