How does the shingles vaccine work?

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The shingles vaccine is a vaccine that helps protect against shingles, a painful rash that can cause blisters and other skin problems. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.

There are two types of shingles vaccines available in the United States:

  • Shingrix: Shingrix is a two-dose vaccine that is given two to six months apart. It is made from a weakened form of the varicella-zoster virus and is approved for adults aged 50 years and older.
  • Zostavax: Zostavax is a one-dose vaccine that is approved for adults aged 60 years and older. It is made from a live, attenuated form of the varicella-zoster virus.

Both Shingrix and Zostavax are effective at preventing shingles, but Shingrix is more effective. In clinical trials, Shingrix was found to be more than 90% effective at preventing shingles in adults aged 50 years and older. Zostavax was found to be 51% effective at preventing shingles in adults aged 60 years and older.

The shingles vaccine works by stimulating the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against the varicella-zoster virus. These antibodies help to protect the body from getting shingles.

The shingles vaccine is not 100% effective at preventing shingles, but it can significantly reduce your risk of getting the disease. If you do get shingles after being vaccinated, the vaccine may make the disease less severe.

How long does the shingles vaccine last?

The Shingrix vaccine is thought to provide long-term protection against shingles. However, more research is needed to determine how long the vaccine’s protection lasts.

The Zostavax vaccine is thought to provide protection against shingles for at least five years. However, the vaccine’s protection may decline over time.

Who should get the shingles vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults aged 50 years and older get the shingles vaccine. The CDC also recommends that adults aged 19 years and older who have certain medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS or cancer, get the shingles vaccine.

Is the shingles vaccine safe?

The shingles vaccine is safe for most adults. However, like any vaccine, it can cause side effects. The most common side effects of the shingles vaccine are mild and go away on their own within a few days. These side effects may include:

  • Pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea

Some people may also experience more serious side effects from the shingles vaccine, such as allergic reactions or Guillain-Barré syndrome. However, these side effects are very rare.

If you are considering getting the shingles vaccine, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of the vaccine.

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