Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Vaccine Recommendations and Safety

Shingles vaccination is the only way to protect against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), the most common complication from shingles. CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix®, separated by 2 to 6 months, to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease. Your doctor or pharmacist can give you Shingrix as a shot in your upper arm.

Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and PHN. Two doses of Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and PHN. Protection stays above 85% for at least the first four years after you get vaccinated. Shingrix is the preferred vaccine, over Zostavax®, a shingles vaccine in use since 2006.

Some people should not get the vaccine. The shingles vaccine should not be given to pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant within 1 month.

You should not get Shingrix if you:

  • have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or after a dose of Shingrix
  • tested negative for immunity to varicella zoster virus. If you test negative, you should get chickenpox vaccine.
  • currently have shingles
  • currently are pregnant or breastfeeding. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should wait to get Shingrix.

If you have a minor acute (starts suddenly) illness, such as a cold, you may get Shingrix. But if you have a moderate or severe acute illness, you should usually wait until you recover before getting the vaccine. This includes anyone with a temperature of 101.3°F or higher.

Herpes Zoster Vaccine Safety

Studies show that Shingrix is safe. The vaccine helps your body create a strong defense against shingles. As a result, you are likely to have temporary side effects from getting the shots. The side effects may affect your ability to do normal daily activities for 2 to 3 days.

Most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after getting Shingrix, and some also had redness and swelling where they got the shot. Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. About 1 out of 6 people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities.  Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.

You might have a reaction to the first or second dose of Shingrix, or both doses.  If you experience side effects, you may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Severe allergic reactions to any vaccine are very rare. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination. If you have a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that can’t wait, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.

If you experience side effects from Shingrix, you should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS website, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.

If you have any questions about side effects from Shingrix, talk with your doctor.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/public/shingrix/index.html

 

Updated 1/26/18

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