Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another. However, a person with shingles can pass the varicella zoster virus to a person who has never had chicken pox or who has not had the chickenpox vaccine. In such cases, the person exposed to the virus may develop chickenpox but not shingles.2,3
The virus is spread by direct contact with the fluid contained in the blisters. Until the blisters scab over, the person is infectious. Avoid contact with people who have a weakened immune system, newborns and pregnant women while you are contagious.
Australian data suggest that 83% of children will develop chickenpox by the age of 10-14 years4 and therefore are at risk of developing shingles later in life. Shingles is less contagious than chickenpox and the risk of a person with shingles spreading the virus is low if the rash is covered.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/overview.html
3. Zoster vaccine for Australian adults/NCIRS Fact sheet: October 2016
4. Gidding HF, MacIntyre CR, Burgess MA, Gilbert GL. The seroepidemiology and transmission dynamics of varicella in Australia. Epidemiology and Infection 2003;131:1085-9