What Vaccines Can Help Prevent Shingles
There is currently one vaccine available in the U.S. to prevent shingles. Shingrix was approved in 2017 and it is more than 90% effective in preventing shingles. With Shingrix, you get two shots between 2 and 6 months apart and protection lasts an estimated 4-5 years. Doctors recommend it for healthy people over 50 as well as those 19 years of age and older who are or will be immunodeficient or immunosuppressed due to disease or therapy..
An earlier vaccine called Zostavax was removed from the market in 2020. That vaccine used a weak form of the chickenpox virus to send your bodyâs immune system into action to fight the disease. Shingrix does not. If you received the Zostavax vaccine, it is recommended that you also receive Shingrix.
What To Know About The Shingles Vaccine
Who needs it? The CDC recommends that everyone 50 and older get Shingrix, even if they had the earlier recommended vaccine Zostavax, or if theyve already had a bout of shingles. Older adults should also get this vaccine, whether or not they remember having had chickenpox as a child. Why? More than 99 percent of Americans over the age of 40 have been exposed to the varicella-zoster virus, even if they dont recall getting chickenpox.
How often? The CDC recommends that older adults, as described above, get this vaccine, which is given in two doses spaced two to six months apart. But it remains to be seen if the agency will recommend that older adults get it again, say, after its effectiveness starts to wane four years after their first inoculation.
Why you need it: 1 in 3 people will get painful, occasionally debilitating shingles, usually after age 50, and the risk increases with age. By age 85, half of adults will have experienced at least one outbreak.
What Is The Shingles Vaccine
The shingles vaccine can protect you against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , which is the most common complication of shingles. Shingles is a painful rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. The rash usually develops on one side of your body or face. It starts with red bumps and then the bumps turn into fluid-filled blisters.
Read Also: Can You Take Advil With Shingles
Why Is The Shingles Vaccine Important
Shingles causes a painful rash and blisters and it can lead to serious complications. The most common complication is post-herpetic neuralgia , a condition that causes burning pain that can last long after the shingles rash and blisters go away. The older you are when you get shingles, the more likely you are to develop PHN.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent shingles and PHN.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox, the chickenpox virus stays dormant in your body. The virus can activate years later and cause shingles.
Symptoms of shingles include:
Shingles cant spread from person to person like chickenpox. But if you have shingles, you can spread the virus to someone who isnt immune to chickenpox meaning someone who hasnt had chickenpox and isnt vaccinated against it. If that happened, the person might get chickenpox but not shingles. Learn more about shingles.
- Adults age 50 and older
- Adults 19 years and older who have a weakened immune system because of disease or treatments
You need to get 2 doses of Shingrix. Youll need the second dose 2 to 6 months after the first dose. You need to get Shingrix even if you:
- Have already had shingles
- Have been vaccinated against shingles with Zostavax
- Are not sure if youve had chickenpox
How Is The Shingles Vaccine Made
The shingles vaccine available in the U.S., Shingrix®, contains a single protein from the surface of herpes zoster virus as well as two adjuvants: QS21 and monophosphoryl lipid A. QS21 is a soap-based molecule isolated from the bark of the Quillaja saponaria tree. Monophosphoryl lipid A is a detoxified form of lipopolysaccharide, a potent adjuvant taken from the surface of common bacteria.
The first shingles vaccine, called Zostavax®, is no longer available in the U.S. However, this version contained a more concentrated version of the same live, weakened virus as the current chickenpox vaccine. It contained about 14 times the amount of weakened chickenpox virus than the vaccine for children. This amount of virus was necessary to obtain a protective response in the aging immune systems of older adults. The introduction of Shingrix vaccine was important because adjuvants in the vaccine improved immune responses in older adults and decreased the need to use large quantities of the live, weakened virus also necessary to make chickenpox vaccine. For these two reasons Zostavax is no longer available in the U.S.
Read Also: What Does Shingles Look Like When It Starts
Key Points To Remember
- Shingles can be very painful.
- Adults ages 50 and older and adults 19 and older who have a weakened immune system can get the vaccine. You need two doses, whether or not you’ve had shingles before.
- The vaccine greatly lowers your chances of getting shingles. If you get shingles anyway, you are less likely to have the long-term pain that can occur after shingles than if you hadn’t had the vaccine.
- If you’ve already had shingles, you are not likely to get it again. But some people do.
Who Should Get Shingles Vaccine
Shingrix is a recommended vaccine for all adults age 50 years and older. In addition, everyone 19 years and older who have a weak immune system are now recommended to get Shingrix. Please talk with your primary care provider to see if you are eligible to get Shingrix. You can get this vaccine even if you have had shingles, previously received varicella vaccine or if you don’t know if you have had chickenpox in the past.
You can get a shingles vaccine if you have a minor illness, such as a cold. But if you are severely ill or have a temperature above 101.3 degrees, wait until you recover before getting shingles vaccine.
Read Also: What Can I Put On My Shingles
Is The Shingles Shot Covered By Medicare
Original Medicare does not pay for the shingles vaccine. However, if youre enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan or have a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage, your shot may be covered. For vaccines covered under Part D , it is not recommended to get the shot through your providers office, as you may have issues with Part D billing.*
What Shingles Vaccines Are Available
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , there are 2 vaccines licensed and recommended to prevent shingles in the U.S.: Shingrix and Zostavax.2 The CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get 2 doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months, to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease.3
You May Like: Does Shingles Give You A Headache
How Effective Is The Shingles Vaccine In Preventing Shingles
The shingles vaccine can provide strong protection against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , the most commonly occurring shingles complication.
The shingles vaccine is 97% effective in preventing shingles in people ages 50 to 69 years old. Its 91% effective in people ages 70 years and older.
In addition, the shingles vaccine is 91% effective in preventing PHN in people ages 50 to 69 years old. Its 89% effective in people ages 70 years and older.
What Are Your Chances Of Getting Shingles
Only people who have had chickenpox can get shingles.
Out of 100 people, about 30 may get shingles sometime in their lives.footnote 2 And the risk is higher for people age 50 and older. Older people are also more likely to have severe pain with shingles.
Most people who get shingles will not get it again. But some people get shingles more than once.
Don’t Miss: What Kind Of Doctor To See For Shingles
How Well Does Shingrix Work
Two doses of Shingrix provide strong protection against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , the most common complication of shingles.
- In adults 50 to 69 years old with healthy immune systems, Shingrix was 97% effective in preventing shingles in adults 70 years and older, Shingrix was 91% effective.
- In adults 50 years and older, Shingrix was 91% effective in preventing PHN in adults 70 years and older, Shingrix was 89% effective.
- In adults with weakened immune systems, Shingrix was between 68% and 91% effective in preventing shingles, depending on their underlying immunocompromising condition.
In people 70 years and older who had healthy immune systems, Shingrix immunity remained high throughout 7 years following vaccination.
What Is The Brand Name Of The Shingles Vaccine
There are 2 shingles vaccines used in the UK:
- Zostavax, a live vaccine given as 1 dose
- Shingrix, a non-live vaccine given as 2 doses, 2 months apart
Most people will have the Zostavax vaccine. The Shingrix vaccine is recommended if Zostavax is not suitable for you, for example if you have a condition that affects your immune system.
You can read more about the shingles vaccines in the patient information leaflets:
Also Check: How Far Apart Should Shingles Vaccines Be
What Matters Most To You
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to get a shingles vaccine
Reasons not to get a vaccine
I want to lower my chances of getting shingles.
I would rather take my chances without getting a vaccine.
I’m afraid of the pain that shingles can cause.
I’m not afraid of shingles pain.
Getting shots doesn’t bother me.
I don’t like getting shots.
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Shingrix
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 might 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. Some 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.
Guillain-Barré syndrome , a serious nervous system disorder, has been reported very rarely after Shingrix. There is also a very small increased risk of GBS after having shingles.
If you experience side effects from Shingrix, you should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System . Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS websiteexternal icon, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
If you have any questions about side effects from Shingrix, talk with your doctor.
Recommended Reading: Do I Need Shingles Vaccine If I Already Had Shingles
Should I Get A Vaccine
Doctors say most healthy people over 50 should get Shingrix, as well as anyone 19 or older who are immunocompromised. Itâs available at pharmacies as well as doctorsâ offices. Most people have been exposed to the chickenpox even if they didnât actually develop symptoms.
You should get the Shingrix vaccine unless:
- You are allergic to any part of the vaccine
- Had a blood test that proves you never had chicken pox
- Have shingles now
- Are breastfeeding or nursing.
Who’s Most At Risk Of Shingles
People tend to get shingles more often as they get older, especially over the age of 70. And the older you are, the worse it can be. The shingles rash can be extremely painful, such that sufferers cannot even bear the feeling of their clothes touching the affected skin.
The pain of shingles can also linger long after the rash has disappeared, even for many years. This lingering pain is called post-herpetic neuralgia .
Recommended Reading: Can A Person Have Shingles More Than Once
Who Should Get Shingrix
Adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months. Adults 19 years and older who have or will have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses of Shingrix. If needed, people with weakened immune systems can get the second dose 1 to 2 months after the first.
You should get Shingrix even if in the past you:
- Received varicella vaccine
There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.
If you had shingles in the past, Shingrix can help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time that you need to wait after having shingles before you can receive Shingrix, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has gone away before getting vaccinated.
Chickenpox and shingles are related because they are caused by the same virus . After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body. It can reactivate years later and cause shingles.
Shingrix is available in doctors offices and pharmacies.
If you have questions about Shingrix, talk with your healthcare provider.
* A shingles vaccine called zoster vaccine live is no longer available for use in the United States, as of November 18, 2020. If you had Zostavax in the past, you should still get Shingrix. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best time to get Shingrix.
Know Your Risk Of Getting Shingles And Complications
About 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime.
If youve had chickenpox, you are at risk for shingles. More than 99% of Americans born before 1980 have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember it.
Your risk of getting shingles and having serious complications increases as you get older.
About 1 in 10 people who get shingles develop nerve pain that lasts for months or years after the rash goes away. This is called postherpetic neuralgia and is the most common complication of shingles.
Shingles may lead to other serious complications involving the eye, including blindness. Very rarely, it can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, brain inflammation or death.
Recommended Reading: Why Should I Get The Shingles Vaccine
When You Should See Your Doctor
Go to your doctor as soon as you see the rash, as treatment is most effective if its started early.
Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medicine, which may help you recover faster and will reduce the chance that the pain will last for a long time.
Your doctor may also give you medicine for pain relief.
See your doctor again if:
- you get any blisters on your face
- your fever or pain gets worse
- your neck gets stiff, you cant hear properly or you feel less able to think clearly
- you develop new symptoms such as drooping or weakness to one side of your face
- the blisters show signs of infection or if you see milky yellow drainage from the blister sites.
Call Healthline if you are unsure what you should do.
Shingles Vaccine Coverage Report : England
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: .
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/herpes-zoster-shingles-immunisation-programme-2021-to-2022-evaluation-reports/shingles-vaccine-coverage-report-adults-eligible-from-april-to-december-2021-and-vaccinated-to-the-end-of-march-2022-england
Recommended Reading: How Often Can You Get The Shingles Shot
How Well Does The Vaccine Work
The vaccine lowers your chances of getting shingles.
If you get the vaccine and still get shingles, you are likely to have much less pain and for a much shorter time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two doses of the shingles vaccine for adults ages 50 and older and for adults 19 and older who have a weakened immune system.footnote 1
- Redness, swelling, or soreness at the spot where the needle went in.
- A high fever or serious allergic reaction .
Getting the vaccine has some risks. For example:
- You might get shingles anyway. But it probably won’t be as painful or last as long.
- You may need another vaccine later in life.
You shouldn’t get the vaccine if:
- You are ill with more than a mild cold or you have had an allergic reaction to the first dose.
- You have a test that says you have never had chickenpox.
- You have shingles.
- You are age 50 or older.
- You are 19 or older and have a weakened immune system.
- You have had shingles before.
- You have a chronic condition, such as chronic kidney failure, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or COPD.
- You live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility.
- The vaccine can lower your chances of getting shingles.
- If you get the vaccine and still get shingles, you are likely to have less pain for a shorter time.
Can People Who Got The Shingles Vaccine Be Around Babies
Yes, people who had the shingles vaccine can be around babies. Unlike the previously available Zostavax vaccine, Shingrix does not contain live, weakened virus, so it does not replicate and people do not get a rash. Therefore, there is no chance of transmitting the virus to babies who are susceptible to chickenpox. Watch as Dr. Offit discusses being around babies after receiving a shingles vaccine in this short video, part of the series Talking About Vaccines with Dr. Paul Offit.
You May Like: How Often Can You Have Shingles