Available Vaccines And Vaccination Campaigns
Since 2008, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended most Americans aged 60 and older get the shingles vaccine. A newer recommendation was issued in 2018 with the licensure of a new vaccine: .
In adults 50-69 years old, Shingrix reduces the risk of shingles by more than 96%. For those 70 and older, the vaccine is 91.3% effective at preventing shingles. It similarly reduces the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia. Modeling studies project that protection will wane to 0 by 19 years after immunization. Study of the expected duration of protection is ongoing.
The antigen in Shingrix is a surface protein of the varicella zoster virus produced by culturing genetically engineered Chinese hamster ovary cells. Vaccination consists of two doses of vaccine, given at months 0 and 2-6.
The older shingles vaccine is a live, attenuated vaccine. It was licensed in 2006. The generic name of the vaccine is Zoster Vaccine, Live . It is still available, although Shingrix is recommended over Zostavax because of its superior effectiveness and duration of protection.
People who have previously been vaccinated with Zostavax are recommended to vaccinate with Shingrix.
Most Medicare drug plans cover the cost of the shingle vaccine and its administration, minus any copayments, for people 65 and older. Most private insurance plans provide coverage for the vaccination for people 50 and older.
More Common Side Effects
The more common side effects of Shingrix can include:
- pain, redness, and swelling at site of injection*
- dizziness or fainting
- flu-like symptoms, including fever, shivering, and tiredness
Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If theyre more severe or dont go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
* For more information about this side effect, see Side effect details below.
Redness At Injection Site
Redness at and around the injection site is common and may appear immediately or some days after receiving Shingrix. This redness commonly develops due to a localized immune system response, which shouldnt cause further concern.
Arm redness should disappear within a few days after receiving the vaccine. However, if you experience redness with a rash or severe pain, let your doctor know as soon as possible.
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Cdc Recommendation For The Shingles Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend Shingrix as the preferred vaccine to prevent shingles and other complications from the disease.
The CDC found that Shingrix was more effective than Zostavax. It recommends that you receive Shingrix, even if youve had Zostavax in the past.
The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to suit your needs.
Fever And Feelings Of Malaise
Fever is one of the most common side effects of many vaccines, including Shingrix. This symptom often accompanies other feelings of malaise, such as muscle pains, chills, and headaches. A fever indicates that the bodys immune system is doing its job of responding to the vaccine.
Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and other OTC fever reducers can help keep a fever and many accompanying symptoms at bay. However, if you develop a high-grade fever of 103°F or higher, reach out to your doctor immediately.
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Who Shouldnt Receive Shringrix
Although vaccines go through rigorous safety testing to ensure they are safe, they arent suitable for everyone. You shouldnt receive Shingrix if you:
- have an active shingles infection
- have a severe illness or a fever of 101.3°F or higher
- have had a severe allergic reaction to Shingrix or any ingredient in the vaccine
- have no immunity to varicella based on a blood test carried out for other reasons
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
If you currently have shingles, another serious illness, or a fever of 101.3°F , wait until these issues have resolved to receive a Shingrix vaccination.
Side Effects Not Requiring Immediate Medical Attention
Some side effects of zoster vaccine, inactivated may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.
Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site
- general feeling of discomfort or illness
- itching at the injection site
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Pain At Injection Site
Pain at the injection site is a common side effect of many vaccines, including Shingrix. This pain is generally mild but can feel like anything from slight discomfort to deep bruising. In some cases, injection site pain can be severe enough to limit arm movement.
To ease this discomfort, you can apply cold packs to the affected area for 20 minutes at a time.
If these arent effective, over-the-counter pain remedies may help. However, if you have injection site pain that is severe or lasts longer than 2 to 3 days, follow up with your doctor.
Allergic Reaction To Shingles Vaccination
There is a very small chance of a severe allergic reaction to the shingles vaccine, as there is with other vaccines.
Anaphylaxis is very serious and potentially life-threatening, but it can be treated. All healthcare staff that deliver vaccinations are trained in this. With prompt treatment, people fully recover from anaphylaxis.
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Weighing The Risks Vs Benefits
The vaccine to prevent shingles will help you to avoid shingles symptoms, which in most cases are quite mild but may cause intense pain in some people.
Shingles symptoms come in two stages: the prodromal stage and the eruptive stage. In the first stage, your symptoms may include:
About three to five days later, you develop a prickly and painful pimple-like rash. These pimples turn into blisters during this eruptive stage, and your skin may be red and swollen. Shingles sores also can affect your mouth, which is another symptom the vaccine can prevent.
Shingles isn’t generally life-threatening. It can be, though, if your immune system is compromised. During an outbreak and after the rash clears up, some people may experience complications that require immediate medical attention.
Common ones include:
- Postherpetic neuralgia : Damaged nerves cause lingering pain for three months or more.
- Bacterial skin infections: When shingles blisters pop, bacteria can get in.
- Eye damage: One branch of the trigeminal nerve goes to the eye. Damage there can lead to eye damage, which can be severe.
While you may experience side effects with the vaccine, the benefits outweigh the risks of shingles symptoms and complications in most people.
If you were vaccinated with Zostavaxa shingles vaccine that is no longer being givenask your healthcare provider about getting the Shingrix vaccine.
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
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Why Does Having Arthritis Affects Your Shingles Risk
The research is pretty clear: People with rheumatoid arthritis are about twice as likely to develop shingles as otherwise-healthy adults, according to a study published in Arthritis Care & Research. Understanding why, however, is less clear: Experts think its likely due to dysfunction in the immune system when you have inflammatory arthritis, as well as effects from the immune-suppressing medications people take to manage their disease.
Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, are prescribed to relieve acute symptoms of RA and are known to increase the risk of shingles: In one 2015 observational study that analyzed data that from more than 28,800 people with RA, researchers showed corticosteroid use and aging were linked to an increased risk of shingles. Conventional DMARDs like methotrexate were not associated with a higher risk of shingles.
Other research suggests a higher risk of shingles among people who use certain biologic therapies, such as tumor necrosis factor inhibitors, as well the drug tofacitinib, which is part of a new class of drugs for RA called janus kinase inhibitors, or JAK inhibitors.
Shingrix For Prevention Of Shingles
Shingrix is a vaccine thats used to prevent shingles . Its approved for use in people:
- ages 50 years and older
- ages 18 years and older who have an increased risk of shingles
People with an increased risk of shingles include those with a weakened immune system, such as people with HIV.
Shingrix is not meant for use in preventing chickenpox .
Effectiveness for prevention of shingles
Shingrix has been found to be effective in helping to prevent shingles. For details on how the drug performed in clinical studies, see Shingrixs
state that Shingrix is the preferred vaccine for shingles. They recommend it for:
- all adults ages 50 years and older
- adults ages 18 to 50 years with a weakened immune system
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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.
Itchy Skin Near The Injection Site
Itchy skin, also called pruritus, can potentially occur near the injection site after receiving Shingrix. Itching, swelling, and redness arent usually a huge cause for concern, as they often occur together as a localized reaction.
Applying Benadryl gel or hydrocortisone cream around the injection area can help reduce itchy, swollen, or red skin. If the itching worsens or spreads away from the injection site, get in touch with your doctor.
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What About Vaccines For Shingles
There are two vaccines available to help prevent shingles: Zostavax, a live vaccine, and the newer Shingrix, a nonliving vaccine that was approved by the FDA in 2017.
Shingrix is now preferred over Zostavax. It is recommended for people age 50 and older, including those who have rheumatoid arthritis . Its given in two doses, with two to six months between doses.
According to the CDC, Shingrix may be used for adults who are taking low-dose immunosuppressive therapy, are anticipating immunosuppression, or have recovered from an immunocompromising illness.
Though Shingrix has been shown to be more effective at preventing shingles than Zostavax, some experts question whether its safe for people with inflammatory arthritis. The Shingrix vaccine was studied in HIV patients, cancer patients, and transplantation patients, who all did fine, Elizabeth Kirchner, MSN, CNP, from the Cleveland Clinic told MedPage Today.
But patients with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and lupus were all excluded from those trials. The concern: kicking up the immune system in autoimmune patients who already have an overactive immune system, she told MedPage.
Getting the shingles vaccine does not guarantee you wont get the disease its only used as a prevention strategy. You should ask your doctor if Shingrix is safe for you.
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.
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How Is Shingles Treated
Theres no cure for shingles. If you think you have it, see your doctor right away. Prompt treatment with a prescribed antiviral medication may help you heal faster and lessen the severity of symptoms, as well as reduce the risk of complications. Shingles usually clears up between two to six weeks. One common complication is postherpetic neuralgia , which occurs from nerve damage and causes chronic pain that can last for months after the blisters clear.
Can My Grandfather With Shingles Give My Baby Daughter Chickenpox
Yes, although people with shingles cannot pass shingles to someone else, they can pass chickenpox virus to others through direct contact with the rash. If your baby has not yet had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, she could become infected with the virus and develop chickenpox.
Unlike chickenpox that can be passed to others through coughs or sneezes, people with shingles can only pass the virus to others through direct contact with the rash. If the rash has yet to develop or has crusted, the patient cannot transmit the virus. Similarly, people who still have pain without the rash are no longer able to transmit the virus.
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Who Should Not Get Shingrix
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.
- Currently have shingles.
- Currently are pregnant. Women who are pregnant should wait to get Shingrix.
If you have a minor illness, such as a cold, you may get Shingrix. But if you have a moderate or severe illness, with or without fever, you should usually wait until you recover before getting the vaccine.
Who Should Not Get The Vaccine
It is safe for most people to get two doses of Shingrix. However, you should talk to your healthcare provider before getting the shingles vaccine if:
- You are pregnant
- You have severe allergies to any of the Shingrix ingredients
- You have ever experienced a severe allergic reaction to Shingrix
If you have a mild sickness, such as a cold, its usually safe to get the shingles vaccine. If you are moderately or severely ill, you should wait until you feel better to get your next dose of Shingrix.
You should still get the shingles vaccine if you dont remember having the chickenpox virus in the past and if youve had shingles previously. Shingrix can protect you against developing shingles again in the future.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
Its normal to have questions before you get a vaccine. Some common questions you may want to discuss with your healthcare provider include:
- When should I get the shingles vaccine?
- What side effects should I expect?
- How does the shingles vaccine work?
- When should I schedule each dose of the shingles vaccine?
- How effective is the shingles vaccine?
- Is there any reason I shouldnt get the shingles vaccine?
- What could happen if I dont get the shingles vaccine?
Shingrix Is Not A Live Vaccine
A live vaccine is one that contains a weakened form of a germ. Shingrix is not a live vaccine. Its an inactive vaccine, which is a vaccine thats made from a germ thats been killed.
Because Shingrix is inactive, more people can receive it. This includes people with a weakened immune system .
People with weakened immune systems are typically advised against receiving live vaccines. This is because on very rare occasions, live vaccines can mutate back to the full-strength germ that causes a disease.
If this happens, people with weakened immune systems would have a much higher risk for developing the disease that the vaccine is meant to prevent.
Shingrix is also a recombinant vaccine. This means that its made of parts of the shingles virus, such as protein, sugar, or capsid .
There used to be an alternative shingles vaccine to Shingrix. This other vaccine was called Zostavax.
Like Shingrix, it was approved to prevent shingles . However, Zostavax is
Below, we briefly describe the similarities and differences between these two vaccines.
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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.