If you’re over 50, you’re most likely one of the 99% who have the shingles virus inside of you.

The virus that causes chickenpox – called varicella zoster virus – also causes shingles. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in your body. It can reactivate years later, when you least expect it, causing shingles – also known as herpes zoster. 

The reality is that your immune system naturally weakens as you age. So your risk for shingles goes up as you get older – even if you feel healthy. There are an estimated one million new cases of shingles each year in this country.

Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another.

However, the virus can be spread from a person with shingles to someone who has never had chickenpox – or was never protected against it. In this case, the person exposed to the virus might develop chickenpox. The virus spreads through direct contact with fluid from the blisters. Once the shingles blisters have developed crusts, they’re no longer contagious.

Fortunately, with shingles vaccination, you may decrease your risk of experiencing shingles and its painful effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends shingles vaccination. Here are a few resources to help you learn more about how to protect yourself against shingles.

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