The shingles vaccine, also known as Zostavax, is a strain of the weakened chickenpox virus that is designed to stimulate the immune system and reduce the risk of contracting shingles, as stated by WebMD. The shingles vaccine is recommended for individuals 60 and older.
The shingles vaccine works to stop the spread of the chickenpox virus, similar to childhood immunizations for rubella, measles and mumps, according to WebMD. Shingles is contagious and can be passed on to others when infected. Individuals who have not yet contracted chickenpox typically contract chickenpox instead of shingles when exposed.
Signs and symptoms of shingles include tingling or burning pain, a rash that develops within a few days and numbness or itchy skin, per WebMD. Shingles develops as blisters and a skin rash that can be painful. People who have been infected with the chickenpox virus are at risk because the virus remains in the nerve tissues over the years, remaining dormant. The virus can flare up and reactivate with the onset of emotional or physical stress and within weakened immune systems, ultimately making people susceptible for contracting shingles.
As of 2015, the shingles vaccine has helped to reduce the risk of contracting shingles by 50 percent.