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What is the zoster vaccine?

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Quick Answer

The herpes zoster vaccine helps prevent patients from contracting shingles, a painful rash caused by the same virus as chickenpox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Individuals who contracted chickenpox may develop shingles, primarily those over the age of 60.

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What is the zoster vaccine?
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Full Answer

The virus that causes chickenpox remains in the body's nerve cells and can reappear years later as shingles, a painful rash on one side of the face or body, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states. The condition often lasts two to four weeks.

The CDC recommends adults over the age of 60 get the shingles vaccine, the agency reports. The older a person is when he develops the condition, the more severe the effects. The zoster vaccine is believed to provide immunity for up to six years and perhaps longer. Patients who have contracted shingles previously can also be vaccinated to prevent another incidence.

In studies, the vaccine is most effective in patients between the ages of 60 and 69, according to the CDC. It reduces the chances of contracting the condition to about 50 percent. In patients who contracted shingles, the vaccine prevented postherpetic neuralgia, continued pain after the rash is gone, in 67 percent of patients.

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