Shingles shot recommended for anyone older than 60
A test at my doctor's office revealed I never had chicken pox, so a few years ago I got a vaccine. Do I still need to get a shingles shot? I'm over 60.
Martie Margolis, West Windsor, N.J.
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The short answer is "No," says Dr. Kari Schultz of Colorado Springs Health Partners PC. But your case is unique.
Since you've had the vaccine and never gotten chicken pox, you're in the clear. Most adults contracted chicken pox when they were younger, and that same virus is responsible for shingles later in life.
Few adults have received the chicken pox vaccine, which is now widely available for children, says Schultz, who specializes in internal medicine and practices in Colorado.
She recommends anyone older than 60 get a shingles shot if they haven't had a chicken pox vaccination. This includes people who can't remember having had chicken pox and those who have had shingles before, since it can recur.
"Anyone who's had shingles once is pretty anxious not to have it again," Schultz says. The painful condition often assails older adults with weakened immune systems. Most develop a blistery rash, which can take up to four weeks to heal. The itching, tingling and burning can be so severe that patients don't even want clothing touching them, she says.