Harvard Health Letter

Shingles: Prevention is the way to go

But obstacles include vaccine cost, Medicare reimbursement policies, and vaccine shortages.

Shingles can be a painful rash that goes away after a few weeks — no fun, but manageable. Or it can be hellish.

"Horrible" and "excruciating" is how some people describe postherpetic neuralgia, the painful aftermath that develops after the initial rash phase in about 10% to 20% of shingles cases. Postherpetic neuralgia pain is hard to predict. It can last for months, even years. Yet it can also end abruptly (and mercifully) for no apparent reason.

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