Recent Blog Articles

Diseases & Conditions

Can you get shingles more than once?

October 1, 2021

Ask the doctors

279e77f9-286a-4ff3-94e4-b538aea658edQ. I already had shingles, but I’m starting to notice similar symptoms. Is it possible to get shingles more than once?

A. Yes: although it’s uncommon, you can get shingles multiple times. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus sticks around in your body after chickenpox symptoms go away, lying dormant in your nerves, held in check by your immune system. It can re-emerge years or decades later as shingles, a painful blistering rash, most commonly on the torso or the side of your face. It may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as headache, fever, or fatigue. While the initial symptoms usually last one to three weeks, the dreaded complication is long-lasting pain in the same area (post-herpetic neuralgia). Your risk of shingles starts to rise at age 50 and continues to increase over time. For this reason, doctors recommend that people over age 50 consider being vaccinated against shingles. The newest shingles vaccine, Shingrix, is 90% effective in preventing the disease. You should be vaccinated even if you have previously been vaccinated with older vaccine Zostavax or already had shingles, since it is possible for it to recur.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

You might also be interested in…

Managing Shingles

This Harvard Medical School Guide takes a detailed look at shingles and the virus that causes
it—its symptoms, how it’s transmitted, how to reduce your chances of getting it, and how to manage the condition if you do get sick.

Read More

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.