Harvard Women's Health Watch

By the way, doctor: Should I get the shingles vaccine?

Q. I'm 67 and had shingles four years ago. Am I immune to it now? If not, should I get the new shingles vaccine?

A. Zostavax, the vaccine against herpes zoster (shingles), hasn't been tested in people who've had a prior episode of shingles, so I don't have a precise answer to your question. However, with a few exceptions (see box), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for all adults ages 60 or over.

Do not get the shingles vaccine if you

  • currently have shingles or post-herpetic neuralgia

  • have a fever of 101°F or higher

  • are allergic to a component of the vaccine, especially neomycin or gelatin

  • have leukemia, lymphoma, or cancer that affects the bone marrow or lymphatic system

  • have an immunodeficiency disease, including HIV or AIDS

  • are receiving high doses of immunosuppressive treatments, including chemotherapy, steroids, or radiation therapy

  • have active untreated tuberculosis.

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