Shingles is a painful rash that can last from 3 to 5 weeks. Severe pain can last for months or even years after the rash fades, especially in older people. Getting vaccinated can help you avoid all of these problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the shingles vaccine for people 60 and older. The vaccine is a live but weakened virus. By getting a small amount of the virus injected under your skin, your body builds up immunity to it. That makes it better able to fight off shingles. Here are the pros and cons of getting shingles vaccine. Reasons to Get the Shingles Vaccine The pain of shingles is certainly something you want to avoid. If you still need other reasons to get the shingles vaccine, think about this: About 25% of people who had chickenpox will get shingles and the risk goes up with age. If you are 85 or older, your risk of shingles is about 50%. Getting the shingles vaccine can cut your chances of getting shingles by 51%. If you do get shingles, you are 67% less likely to have lasting pain after the rash is gone. Also, almost everyone older than 40 has had chickenpox, putting them at risk of developing shingles in the future. The CDC suggests you get the vaccine even if you don’t remember having chickenpox as a child. Reasons to Not Get the Shingles Vaccine Not everyone should get the shingles vaccine. You should not be vaccinated if: You have had a severe allergic reaction to neomycin or gelatin. Both items are used to make the vaccine. Talk with your doctor if you have had any reaction to vaccinations in the past. You have a weak immune system. Some diseases, such as cancer and HIV/AIDS, can cause this. Some cancer treatments and other disease treatments can also cause a weak immune system. You are pregnant or may be pregnant. You have active shingles. The vaccine is not a treatment. It is only good for prevention. Other Things You Should Know You don’t need to wait until you’re 60 to get the vaccine. It seems to work best for people between ages 60 and 69. But anyone 50 and older can get it. Also, the vaccine can be expensive. Be sure to check that your insurance covers it. For those on Medicare, Part D covers it, Part B does not. Other things to know include: Side effects of the vaccine can include redness, soreness, swelling or itching at the site of the shot. Some people also get headaches. After you’re vaccinated, you cannot spread the virus to pregnant women, children, or people with a weak immune system. If you already had shingles, the CDC suggests getting the vaccine anyway. There's a slight risk that shingles may come back. Questions to Ask Yourself Now ask yourself these questions: Am I 60 or older? Am I not allergic to any part of the vaccine? Do I have a normal immune system? If you answered "yes" to all three questions, the odds favor getting the shingles vaccine. But it's your decision. Talk with your doctor about the shingles vaccine and make an informed decision that’s right for you.