Shingles is a painful skin rash with blisters but is not a life-threatening condition. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.

In some people who have had chickenpox, the virus becomes active again later in life and causes shingles. About 1 out of 3 people will get shingles in their lifetime. Shingles is more common in people over 50 years of age and in those with immune systems weakened by medication or disease. 

You cannot get shingles from someone who has shingles. You can get chickenpox from someone who has shingles if you have never had chickenpox or never received the chickenpox vaccine.

Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles. Early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications. The most common complication is postherpetic neuralgia, which causes shingles pain for a long time after your blisters have cleared.

Cost: The vaccine is not provided for free in BC, with rare exception. It can be purchased at some pharmacies and travel clinics. Call ahead to ask about vaccine availability and cost. Some health insurance plans may cover the cost of the vaccine; check with your insurance provider. If you are covered by First Nations Health Benefits, please read the following.

Click the links below to find out more about:

Populations at risk

Causes & symptoms



When to see a doctor



Page Last Updated: 30/01/2021