(NC) Each year, roughly 130,000 Canadians — including about 16,000 people in British Columbia — experience the debilitating effects of shingles. The condition is more frequent in people over 50 and typically presents as a painful, blistering rash that’s caused by a reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox.

More than 90 per cent of adults who are over 50 years of age and have had chickenpox are at risk for shingles. In fact, it’s estimated that one in three people will develop shingles in their lifetime; for those who reach age 85 and older, the odds increase to one in two.

The risk and severity of shingles increases in older adults because aging causes a natural decline in the body’s immunity.

The best way to help prevent shingles is to be vaccinated against it. Even some provincial governments are recognizing how important it is for older adults to be vaccinated to help protect against shingles. In Ontario for example, there is already a free shingles vaccination program for some seniors.

People aged 50 and over who are most at risk are encouraged to talk to their doctor about shingles prevention and the benefits and risks of vaccination.