Can adults get chickenpox?

When children get chickenpox, their bodies fight the illness by making a substance called antibodies. The antibodies fight the virus and help the body get well. These antibodies stay in the body throughout an adult's life. If an adult comes in contact with the virus, the antibodies are there to fight the germ.

Rarely, adults get chickenpox even though they've already had it. When the chickenpox virus in an adult becomes active again, the illness that results is called "shingles." People "catch" shingles from their own chickenpox virus. People with shingles can spread chickenpox to people who have not had chickenpox.

What are shingles?

Shingles also looks like a rash of small bumps. It can be painful and can take longer to heal. Shingles will usually go away on its own in a week or two.

early and late stages of shingles | Cleveland Clinic

Is there a vaccine for shingles?

A new shingles vaccine is now available. This product is called Shingrix® (recombinant zoster vaccine. Shingrix is given as a shot in the arm. You should have two shots that are given 2-6 months apart. The vaccine is only a preventive therapy and is not a treatment for those who have already developed shingles. However, if you have had shingles, you can still get the vaccine to prevent further outbreaks.

Due to high levels of demand for GSK’s Shingrix vaccine, providers should anticipate ordering limits and intermittent shipping delays for Shingrix. It is anticipated order limits and shipping delays will continue throughout 2019. GSK increased the US supply available for 2018 and plans to make even more doses available in the US in 2019. Additionally, GSK will continue to release doses to all customer types on a consistent and predictable schedule during 2019.

Who should be vaccinated with Shingrix?

This vaccine is recommended for those 50 years of age and older who are in decent health.

You should get the Shingrix vaccine even if:

  • You have had shingles already
  • You have been vaccinated with an older vaccine called Zostavax® (zoster vaccine live), but you should wait at least 8 weeks after having Zostavax.
  • You do not know for sure if you have ever had chickenpox

Who should not be vaccinated with Shingrix?

  • People who have ever had a severe allergy to this vaccine or any part of this vaccine
  • Women who are breastfeeding or pregnant
  • People who are somewhat ill or very ill

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