Zostavax Vaccine

Shingles Vaccine: Should I get it or not?

Shingles (also known as herpes zoster) is a painful, blistering rash that can last several weeks.

It can occur at any time, without warning. For most people, the pain from shingles resolves as the rash heals, but for others, it can last for months or even years.

The pain from shingles varies:

  • can be excruciating
  • can interfere with everyday activities and sleep
  • can lead to emotional distress
  • can cause long-lasting nerve pain (known as Post Herpetic Neuralgia or PHN)

Our office offers the shingles vaccine called “Zostavax” at a cost of $225; it is not funded by the Ontario government. This vaccine reduces the risk of developing shingles by 50% and PHN by two-thirds.  The virus stays in your body and can later become active again as shingles.

As you get older, your chance of developing shingles goes up. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people will have shingles in their lifetime. For those who reach age 85, 1 in 2 will have had shingles.

People 60 years of age or older should get the shingles vaccine. They should get the vaccine whether or not they recall having had chickenpox, which is caused by the same virus as shingles.