A shingles vaccine may do more than prevent seniors from experiencing a painful disease. The medication also reduces stroke risk by up to 16%, a new study finds. 

Fully half of adults who live to age 85 have had or will get shingles, and they are at a higher risk for stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Investigators followed more than one million adults aged 66 or older who were inoculated with the zoster vaccine live, one of two available shingles vaccinations. Participants had no prior history of stroke. The researchers compared their health outcomes with those of adults who did not receive the vaccination. 

Among their findings: 

  • Receiving the shingles vaccine lowered the risk of stroke by about 16%
  • The vaccine’s protection was strongest for people ages 66 to 79 years
  • Among adults younger than 80, the vaccine reduced the risk of stroke by nearly 20%
  • In participants older than 80, vaccination reduced the risk by about 10%

“Our study results may encourage people ages 50 and older to follow the recommendation and get vaccinated against shingles,” said Quanhe Yang, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the CDC. “You are reducing the risk of shingles, and at the same time you may be reducing your risk of stroke.”