Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Zoster Prevention

The initial infection with Herpes zoster virus causes chicken pox. Later in life, this virus causes Herpes zoster. If you never get chicken pox, you can't get Herpes zoster. In the US, a childhood varicella-zoster vaccination program was started in 1995. The vaccine prevents chicken pox, as well as Herpes zoster. The Herpes zoster vaccine helps prevent herpes zoster in adults over 50 years old, who have had chicken pox in the past.

Prevention of chicken pox and Herpes zoster in children includes:

Prevention of Herpes zoster in adults who have had chicken pox includes:
  • Zoster vaccine (Zostavax):
    • Used in adults over 50 years of age
    • Contains a weakened strain of chicken pox virus
    • May not prevent zoster in everyone, but reduces the severity of the infection
    • Those with a poorly functioning immune system should not get this vaccine.

Continue to Zoster Outlook

Last Updated: May 24, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Zoster References
  1. Arvin AM. Antiviral therapy for varicella and herpes zoster. Semin Pediatr Infect Dis. 2002 Jan;13(1):12-21. [12118839]
  2. Feder HM Jr, Hoss DM. Herpes zoster in otherwise healthy children. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2004 May;23(5):451-7; quiz 458-60. [15131470]
  3. Johnson RW. Herpes zoster in the immunocompetent patient: management of post-herpetic neuralgia. Herpes. 2003 Aug;10(2):38-45. [1457795]
  4. Liesegang TJ. Herpes zoster virus infection. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2004 Dec;15(6):531-6. [15523199]
  5. Pugh RN, Omar RI, Hossain MM. Varicella infection and pneumonia among adults. Int J Infect Dis. 1998 Apr-Jun;2(4):205-10. [9763503]
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