Why You Shouldn’t Get The Shingles Vaccine
- Medical Reviewer: Dany Paul Baby, MD
Medically Reviewed on 5/24/2022
Shingles is a disease that usually presents with a painful rash that affects one in three people in their lifetime. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox the herpes virus varicella-zoster. More than 99% of people born before 1980 have had chickenpox and have this virus dormant in the brain or spinal cord.
Shingles activates when your immunity is low, usually with advancing age. The currently used recombinant zoster vaccine is safe and effective. But not everyone who is a candidate for the shingles vaccine should take it. Like all vaccines, the shingles vaccine has benefits and harms. You should know about both and make an informed decision about taking it.
Home Remedies For Shingles
Self-care for shingles at home includes:
- applying calamine lotion or other creams to soothe the skin and relieve pain
- cleaning the rash area gently to prevent bacterial infection
- placing cool compresses on blisters to lessen pain and help the blisters heal
- drinking plenty of water and other healthy liquids
- reducing stress as much as possible, such as walking every day and eating nutritious food
- resting, contact your doctor if pain is making it difficult to sleep
Who Can Get A Free Shingles Vaccination
If you are age 65
Shingles vaccination is free for 12 months once you turn 65. As long as you receive your first dose when you are 65, your second dose will still be free, even if you get it after you turn 66.
If you are under 65
Shingrix is recommended for anyone aged 50 and over.
If you are not 65 years old, however, you will need to pay. The price will vary depending on the provider, but you can expect it to cost between $600 to $800 for both doses.
If you are over 65
You may have already had a shingles vaccine. If you are not sure, talk to your family doctor.
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Can You Still Get Shingles After The Vaccine
According to the CDC, the Shingrix vaccine is about 90% effective. This means that the vaccine does not protect you 100% against shingles.
Therefore, although rare, it is still possible to get shingles even after the shingles vaccine. In addition, the vaccine doesn’t fully guarantee that you will not get shingles. Instead, it only minimizes your risk of getting the illness.
However, if you get shingles after getting the shingles vaccine, your symptoms will be milder, and the illness will run a short course.
Moreover, your risk of getting shingles complications like postherpetic neuralgia will be significantly lower.
How Is Shingles Spread
You do not “catch” shingles it comes on when there’s a reawakening of chickenpox virus that’s already in your body. The virus can be reactivated because of a range of issues, including advancing age, medicine, illness or stress.
Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles. It’s estimated that around 1 in 5 people who have had chickenpox go on to develop shingles.
Read more about the causes of shingles.
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Stage : Tingling Burning Skin Sensations
Common places for the rash to develop include around the waistline, chest, or back, usually on one side of the body. It may also occur on one side of the scalp, face or neck, or on one arm or leg.
Who Is A Candidate For The Shingles Vaccine
Adults 50 years and older. Immunocompetent adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, 2 to 6 months apart.
Adults 19 years and older with weakened immunity. Immunity could be reduced by diseases like HIV, leukemia, or lymphoma. The immunosuppressive medicines given with organ transplants, and chemotherapy for cancer, also weaken immunity. The vaccine is safe and effective in people with multiple myeloma and other blood cancers, solid organ cancer, people with HIV, and renal transplant recipients.
People who have had shingles. Unlike chickenpox, shingles can happen again. The shingles vaccine works well if you’ve had shingles before. You will have stronger immunity against further attacks of shingles.
People who took Zostavax. This shingles vaccine is no longer in use in the US. People who took it should take two doses of RZV.
Do your age or health situation make you eligible for the vaccine? Weighing the benefits and potential dangers will let you make the best decision for yourself.
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How Can I Prevent Getting Shingles
Prevent your children from getting shingles later in life by getting them immunized with the chickenpox vaccine. As an adult the best way to not get shingles is to get the shingles vaccine. The shingles vaccine is safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get the disease. When you get immunized with the shingles vaccine you help protect others from chicken pox.
People with shingles can prevent spreading the virus by covering their rash, not touching or scratching the rash and washing their hands often.
Who Should Get A Covid
Were learning that the COVID-19 vaccines may become less effective over time, especially against new variants of the virus. Getting a booster shot, however, can increase your protection from the COVID-19 virus. Everyone is encouraged to get a COVID-19 booster, provided they meet the following criteria:
- Anyone 12 years and older can receive a Pfizer-BioNTech booster if its been at least 5 months since they completed their COVID vaccinations.
- Adults 18 or older who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine series at least 5 months ago can get any authorized COVID-19 booster.
- Adults over 18 who received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 2 months ago can get any authorized COVID-19 booster.
In general, the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines are preferred over the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, .
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How Do You Treat Shingles
There’s no cure for shingles. Shingle is a viral infection that must run its course. Fortunately, there are various treatments and remedies to alleviate symptoms and speed up recovery. You should seek treatment for shingles within 72 hours of developing symptoms.
Antiviral medications like acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir are the most common for treating shingles. Take them as your healthcare provider prescribes to minimize pain and speed recovery.
Also, over-the-counter or prescription pain medication might help ease pain caused by shingles.
The National Institute on Aging recommends the following home remedies for the treatment of shingles:
Wearing loose-fitting natural fiber clothes
Cool showers or baths to clean and soothe the skin
Applying calamine lotion to relieve itching
Eating well-balanced meals
Getting plenty of rest
If shingles symptoms don’t improve after the above treatments and remedies, seek medical help. Also, if you develop shingles complications, speak to your doctor immediately.
If you’ve not had shingles, the best way to protect yourself is by getting the shingles vaccine, Shingrix.
Medicare Part D Plans
While Medicare Part D provides coverage for the Shingrix vaccination, there may be an out-of-pocket cost. This will vary based on the specific Medicare plan, however. This may include a copay for the shingles vaccine or the beneficiary paying the full cost and getting reimbursed for a certain amount. Eligible individuals should receive Shingrix at a doctors office within the drug plans network or at an in-network pharmacy.
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Common Symptoms Of Shingles
The most common symptoms of shingles are:
- sensation of an itching, tingling, or severe burning or shooting pain that precedes a rash
- painful rash in a band or patch-like shape over the affected area
- fluid-filled blisters that eventually dry out, crust over, and heal
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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How Much Does The Shingles Vaccine Cost
Shingles vaccines are not publicly funded in B.C. One dose of Zostavax costs about $200 each dose of Shingrix is about $150. Both vaccines are available at most travel clinics and pharmacies. Check with your health insurance provider to see if your plan covers the cost of these vaccines.Get immunized against shingles by making an appointment with your doctor, pharmacist or travel clinic.
Can I Get The Shingles Vaccine If I Am Under Age 50
Shingrix is not recommended for adults under age 50 who have a healthy immune system.
It is recommended for adults ages 19 or over who are immunocompromised, such as people with an immune-related health condition or who are receiving immunosuppressive agents, which are medications that reduce the bodys immune response. These medications may help prevent organ rejection after an organ transplant and treat other medical conditions.
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Where To Get Vaccinated
You have a choice on where to get vaccinated.
In your doctors office: You can get vaccinated in your doctors office. If the office is set up to bill Part D directly for your vaccination, you may only have to pay a copay at the time of your shingles shot. If not, you may have to pay all costs upfront and submit a claim to your Part D plan for reimbursement.
At your local pharmacy: You can go to your local pharmacy to get your shingles shot as long as they offer the vaccine and appropriately trained staff members administer it. The rules for pharmacy vaccination vary by state. You will likely need to pay for the vaccination upfront. Pharmacies are not legally required to dispense medications without payment.
Who Shouldn’t Get A Shingles Vaccine
The CDC says some people shouldn’t get the shingles vaccine. That includes those who:
- Have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or after a dose of Shingrix
- Tested negative for VZV immunity
- Currently have shingles
- Have a severe or moderate acute illness, such as a respiratory infection
Your healthcare provider can answer any questions you have about whether the vaccine is safe for you.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Shingles
In the United States, 1 in 3 people will develop shingles in their lifetime, and there are about 1 million cases a year in the country. Older adults who had chickenpox but do not have the shingles vaccine can often have a higher risk of reactivating the varicella-zoster virus and getting shingles.
Other factors that increase your risk include:
- conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV, cancer, chemotherapy, or an organ transplant
- weakened or impaired immune system, which also increases the risk for having recurring episodes of shingles
The risk of shingles is usually 10 times greater in adults who are more than 60 years old than in children younger than 10. Much of the increase in shingles risk occurs at around 50 years old.
Is It Safe To Get The Covid
If youve had chickenpox, youre at risk of developing shingles when you get older. The same virus that causes chickenpox can reactivate many years later in your body, perhaps due to a waning immune system, and cause the painful, blistery rash known as shingles. , adults over 50, as well as people 19 and older with compromised immune systems, are encouraged to get the shingles vaccine to prevent shingles infection.
Its a good idea to discuss your individual situation with your doctor, but in most cases, you can get the shingles vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. Early on, as researchers were continuing to gather information about the COVID vaccine, it was recommended to space it out a few weeks from other immunizations. However, as experts learned more, it was safe to give the COVID-19 vaccine along with other vaccines, even on the same day.
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Who Is Eligible For The Vaccine
People aged 70 years of age are eligible for the vaccine.
The vaccine is also available for those previously eligible but who missed immunisation. For example, anyone in their 70s who has not yet had the vaccine.
You become eligible for the shingles vaccine as you turn 70 and remain eligible up to the age of 79.
People under 70 years of age are at lower risk of shingles but will become eligible for the vaccine when they turn 70. People aged 80 years and over are not eligible for the shingles vaccination because the vaccine becomes less effective as people get older. If you are worried about shingles speak to your GP.
Can Pregnant Women Get The Shingles Vaccine
If you have never had chickenpox and intend on becoming pregnant, you should consult your doctor about getting the vaccine at least three months before trying to conceive. This vaccine is not considered safe to administer during pregnancy, so if you havent had it before your pregnancy, youll have to wait until afterward to consider getting it.
Some people get a vaccine against VZV when theyre older to reduce the risk of shingles. This shingles vaccine is somewhat different from the chickenpox vaccine given to children and younger adults, even though it works against the same virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the shingles vaccine for everyone over 50 years. However, its not recommended for pregnant women.
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When They Start How Long They Last
The shingles vaccine is given in a two-shot series. You may experience side effects after the first, second, or both shots. Most of the time, these symptoms are mild and occur immediately following vaccination. They typically only last for two or three days.
Side effects of the shingles vaccine are more common in younger people, and might interrupt your normal daily activities for a few days.
This may seem like a downside of the shingles vaccine, but remember that these symptoms are a result of the creation of a strong shingles defense within your body.
It is OK to take Tylenol or Advil after a shingles vaccine to relieve symptoms. Rest and plenty of fluids may help, too.
Who Should Not Get The Shingles Vaccine
Some people shouldnt get the shingles vaccine. These people include those:
- Who currently have shingles.
- Who have had a severe allergic reaction to the shingles vaccine in the past.
- Who have tested negative for immunity to the varicella-zoster virus, meaning youve never had chickenpox. If youve never had chickenpox, you should get the chickenpox vaccine.
- Who are ill. You should wait until your illness has passed before receiving the shingles vaccine.
- Who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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People Who Are Eligible For The Vaccine
Your GP will offer you the vaccine if you were aged 70 on 1 September 2022 and were born:
- between 2 September 1951 and 1 September 1952
You are still eligible for the vaccine during 2022/ 2023 if you haven’t already received the vaccine and:
- are aged between 71 and 79 years old
- were born between 2 September 1942 and 1 September 1952
If you fall into the group above you need to ask your GP for the vaccine.
What Causes Shingles
Chickenpox and shingles are caused by the same virus, varicella-zoster. When you recover from chickenpox, the virus stays in the cells in your nervous system.
It can become active again if your body is no longer able to suppress it. It spreads down nerve fibers and up to your skin, causing a rash, inflammation, burning, and pain.
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What Vaccine Is Used
The Zostavax vaccine is routinely used in Scotland.
This shingles vaccine contains a weakened form of the virus that causes shingles. Because its weakened, it does not cause the illness. It helps to build up your immunity to the virus, so your body will fight it off more easily if it affects you again.
If you have a severely weakened immune system, you may be offered the Shingrix vaccine. This vaccine is not live. Your health professional will be able to advise on which vaccine is right for you.