Don’t get clucked over. Even if you dodged chicken pox as a kid, you’re still at risk, says William Schaffner, M.D., a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University.
While U.S. adults account for just 5 percent of reported chicken pox cases each year, they’re often hit harder than children. Some complications include pneumonia and blood, bone, or joint infections.
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Plus, years down the road, the varicella zoster virus that causes chicken pox could come back as shingles, an extremely painful rash that targets older adults.
Ready to roll up your sleeve? First, ask your doctor to make sure the disease didn’t already take roost when you were a youngster: “Some cases can be pretty mild, so adults may have actually experienced chicken pox as children—even if they don’t remember it,” says Dr. Schaffner.
If a blood test shows that you’ve never been infected, you’ll be given the standard varicella zoster vaccine, which is administered in two doses with about a month between each shot. It’s usually covered by your insurance, depending on your policy, Dr. Schaffner says.
Then, whether or not you recall having the pox, be sure to get the shingles vaccine once you turn 60.