Q: Is it helpful to get the shingles vaccine if I’ve already had shingles? — M.P., Lima, Ohio
A: Yes. The Zostavax vaccine, approved for folks 60 older who have a healthy immune system, can cut the risk of having an outbreak of shingles (a reactivation of the chickenpox virus) at least in half — even if they’ve already had a previous outbreak. Furthermore, in folks who receive the Zostavax vaccine and end up getting shingles, there’s a two-thirds reduction in the incidence of “post-herpetic neuralgia,” a very painful, often chronic nerve pain that typically follows a bout of shingles.
Dr. Mitchell Hecht is a physician specializing in internal medicine. Send questions to him at: “Ask Dr. H,” P.O. Box 767787, Roswell, GA 30076. Because of the large volume of mail received, personal replies are not possible.