If you haven't gotten the shingles vaccine yet, don't put it off: A review by the Cochrane Collaboration confirmed that the shot reduces the risk of shingles in people over 60 by about half and reduces the severity of an outbreak if one does occur. It also found that the vaccine is more effective in people in their sixties than in those over 70, since older people have a weaker immune response to it.
The CDC recommends the vaccine for people 60 and older because that was the age group in the initial studies. But in 2011 the FDA expanded its approval to people ages 50 to 59, based on research showing that the shot cuts the risk of shingles by nearly 70 percent in that age group.
The vaccine, which costs about $200, is covered by most insurance plans. For people over 65, it falls under Medicare Part D, the federal drug program. Out-of-pocket costs vary from plan to plan.
Not convinced? See John Swartzberg, MD, chair of the Berkeley Wellness editorial board, answer two common questions about the shingles vaccine in this video.
This article was originally published in January 2013. It was updated in December 2015.