There's a 50-50 chance the shot will prevent shingles for those 60 and up, though the odds get worse the older you get. But shingles can be severe for some people, and the government believes it's worth the $160-per-dose cost.
We ask Fox News Medical Contributor, Dr. Marc Siegel, about some frequently asked questions regarding shingles and the vaccine. Q: If I've had chicken pox can I still get shingles? A: Yes - in fact, shingles is reactivation of the same virus that causes chicken pox. IF you HAVEN"T had chicken pox, then you don't get shingles, but adult chicken pox which is a diffuse rash.
Q: Who is at risk for shingles? A: Anyone who has had chicken pox is at risk. But we are especially concerned for elderly or those with chronic diseases.
Q: How can you get shingles? A: You don't actually "get" shingles. It is the reactivation of a virus that is lying dormant in your body since when you had chicken pox.
Q: Can you get shingles more than once?A: Yes - you can have it several times.
Q: Can the vaccine be given to someone who has already had shingles? A: Yes it can be - the CDC is currently testing its effectiveness in this regard, but it is believed to be effective.
Q: Does the vaccine have any side effects? A: Malaise, flu like symptoms, local eruption, same as other common vaccines - nothing long term or significant
Q: What are the long term effects of shingles if not treated?A: It may go completely away, but it can also cause post herpetic neuralgia (significant pain syndrome) in the region, or if on the face, can effect the eye or vision.
Q: How is shingles treated?A: Can't be cured, but symptoms can be lessened with acyclovir (products Famvir, Valtrex, Zovirax), and sometimes local lidocaine patch can reduce pain.
Shingles is caused by the Herpes Zoster virus (the same that causes chicken pox). Dr. Siegel says that the vaccine is effective in 50% and lasts for 4 years.