The vaccine for shingles is recommended for use in people 60 years old and older to prevent shingles. The older a person is, the more severe the effects of shingles typically are, so all adults 60 years old or older should get the shingles vaccine.
The shingles vaccine is specifically designed to protect people against shingles and will not protect people against other forms of herpes, such as genital herpes. The shingles vaccine is not recommended to treat active shingles or post-herpetic neuralgia (pain after the rash is gone) once it develops.
A single dose of zoster vaccine is recommended for adults aged 60 years or older regardless of whether they report a prior episode of herpes zoster. Although the vaccine is licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use among and can be administered to persons aged 50 years or older, ACIP recommends that vaccination begin at age 60 years.
Persons aged 60 years or older with chronic medical conditions may be vaccinated unless their condition constitutes a contraindication, such as pregnancy or severe immunodeficiency.
In a clinical trial involving more than 38,000 adults, the shingles vaccine was administered to about half of the study participants. The other half received a placebo. The prevalence of serious adverse events was similar in the vaccine and placebo groups (1.9% and 1.3%, respectively). One case of anaphylaxis occurred in the placebo group. No vaccine-related deaths were reported. The most commonly reported side effects were erythema (36%), pain or tenderness (35%), swelling (26%), and pruritis (7%) at the injection site.
Transmission of the zoster (shingles) vaccine-associated virus has never been documented. Persons having close household or occupational contact with persons at risk for severe varicella need not take any precautions after receiving zoster vaccine except in rare instances in which a varicella-like rash develops, when standard contact precautions are adequate. Although transmission of Oka/Merck strain VZV has been documented following varicella vaccination, such transmission is rare and has only been documented when the vaccine recipient first developed a varicella-like rash. Rates of varicella-like rash appear to be less common following zoster vaccination than following varicella vaccination, and transmission of the Oka/Merck strain VZV from recipients of zoster vaccine has not been detected.
If an adverse event occurs following vaccination in a patient vaccinated with zoster vaccine, immediately report the incident to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, which is maintained jointly by CDC and FDA. The phone number is 800-822-7967, and the web site address is http://www.vaers.hhs.gov.
As with all vaccines, there can be minor reactions, including pain and redness at the injection site, headache, fatigue or a vague feeling of discomfort.
Some people should NOT get shingles vaccine.
Patients should not receive the Shingles vaccine if they are:
For more information on herpes zoster vaccine safety, visit CDC's webpage Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine Safety