Shingles (also called herpes zoster) is a painful skin rash caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox (varicella-zoster) virus in people who have previously had chickenpox. Shingles can occur at any age, but as people get older their chance of getting the disease increases, and complications also become more common. People with a weakened immune system are also at higher risk of shingles. Although rare, it is possible to have shingles more than once.
In England and Wales there are about 50,000 cases of shingles in people aged 70 or above every year, and it is estimated that about 50 of these cases result in death. Around one in four adults will experience shingles in their lifetime. In September 2013 the UK introduced a shingles vaccine, which is offered to people when they turn 70.