Harvard Men's Health Watch

Shingles vaccination pros and cons

Vaccination against the chicken pox virus prevents a painful rash common in older men, but it has limits.

Shingles is a painful rash caused by the reactivation of the chicken pox virus (varicella zoster) that has lain dormant in the nervous system after a childhood bout with those itchy red bumps. Shingles triggers a skin rash that can be quite painful but usually settles down after a week to 10 days and heals over.

A vaccine against shingles is widely available and is recommended for everyone 60 and older. Most men should consider getting the shot, but there are a few things you should know. One is that it may not work. Also, if your insurance doesn't cover the shot, you could end up paying a premium price for it.

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