Generally, adults who are age 60 and older should get the shingles vaccine, as the people in this age group are more at risk of contracting serious cases of shingles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Individuals should seek a doctor's approval before getting the vaccine.
Shingles or herpes zoster is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus and is characterized as a painful skin rash with blisters, as stated by WebMD. The same virus remains dormant inside the nerve tissues of a person who contracted chickenpox, and it reactivates when a person's immune system weakens or undergoes physical and emotional stress. Approximately one in three Americans is likely to get herpes zoster during his lifetime, the CDC said, with the elderly more likely to develop the disease.
Regardless of age, there are some individuals for whom the shingles vaccine can be dangerous, such as those who are allergic to gelatin, neomycin or any other ingredients in the vaccine, states the CDC. The shingles vaccine is also unsuitable for individuals who have a compromised immune system or those who are receiving immunosuppressive medications. Individuals with cancer that impacts upon their bone marrow or lymphatic system, as well as those who are receiving treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy, should also avoid the shingles vaccine. Additionally, the shingles vaccine is inadvisable for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.
The shingles vaccine is otherwise a safe vaccine for the eligible candidates, according to the CDC. Common side effects include minor reactions such as headaches or irritation and inflammation of the skin at the injection site. The shingles vaccine is particularly effective for adults in their 60s, with clinical trials indicating that it can significantly reduce the chances of contracting shingles. The protective benefits from the vaccine, however, can decline with time.