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On the day I received my flu shot, I also received a vaccine to prevent shingles.

Shingles is a highly painful skin condition caused by a reactivation of the virus that causes chicken pox. Shingles tends to affect elderly patients but can also affect younger patients, particularly those whose immune systems are compromised. The skin lesions from shingles are extremely painful and even after the rash disappears, some individuals will continue to have severe pain in the affected area.

In my case, it was very clear to me that the benefit of getting the vaccine far outweighs the cost of the vaccine. And having potential protection against shingles, also outweighed any concerns about potential adverse events associated with the vaccine (which are extremely rare).

I would urge all those of you over 60 to talk to your doctor and if there are no contraindications you should receive the vaccine. For those of you who are between 50 and 60, I urge you to talk to your doctor about the benefits of the vaccine. You should know that some insurance companies may not cover the cost of the vaccine and so you should check with your plan to see whether the vaccine is covered.

Finally, your doctor should tell you that the shingles vaccine is a live vaccine, and should not be used by anyone with or in close contact to anyone with immune deficiency.

As always, my wishes for a “Healthier U.”

Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.
Stony Brook University President