Does The Shingles Vaccine Have Any Side Effects
The Shingrix vaccine is safe. The most common side effects include mild or moderate pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Some people experience headaches, fatigue, fever, or nausea, but these side effects are temporary and should not last more than a few days. Any side effects you may experience will be much less severe than having shingles.
The side effects are the result of your body creating a strong defense against shingles. You may have a reaction to the first, second, or both doses of Shingrix. Taking an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help relieve some side effects.
In clinical trials, serious side effects from Shingrix were extremely rare. For every one million doses of a vaccine given, only one or two people had a severe allergic reaction.
Very Common And Common Adverse Events
Very common adverse events occur in 10% or more of vaccinees. Common adverse events occur in 1% to less than 10% of vaccinees.
Injection site reactions are very commonly reported for both LZV and RZV. For LZV recipients the frequency is slightly higher in adults aged < 60 years. For all ages, the majority of these events were rated mild or moderate in intensity and lasted less than 2 days.
Due to the adjuvant in RZV, which induces a high cellular immune response and helps address the natural age-related decline in immunity, RZV is more reactogenic than LZV.
Injection site AEs are very commonly reported by recipients of RZV. Approximately 80% report injection-site pain and approximately 30% report redness at the site of injection.
Systemic adverse events, primarily fatigue and myalgia are common in LZV recipients and very common in RZV recipients . For RZV, they include headache .
Local and systemic reactions that were severe enough to interfere with normal activities have been more frequently reported following the receipt of RZV than LZV. However, these reactions have been temporary . Patient education on the short-term reactogenicity of the RZV is recommended prior to vaccine administration to promote adherence to the second dose.
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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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.
Does The Vaccine Work
In December 2017 Public Health England published an evaluation of the first three years of the shingles vaccination programme in England . This showed that the shingles vaccine was 62% effective against shingles and 70 to 88% effective against post-herpetic neuralgia in this period. Public Health England estimates that there were 17000 fewer GP consultations for shingles than expected in this 3-year period.
In the early 2000s researchers carried out a very large study of Zostavax, the shingles vaccine used in the UK, involving over 38,000 adults aged 60 or older. The results showed that:
- In adults aged between 60 and 70, the vaccine reduced the number of cases of shingles by 51.3%
- In adults aged over 70, the vaccine reduced the number of cases of shingles by 38%
- The vaccine reduced the incidence of post-herpetic neuralgia by over 66% in all age groups
- For those who did get shingles, the vaccine reduced the severity of the disease.
Read the abstract of this study , published in 2005 by Oxman et al.
Adults aged 80 or over are not offered the shingles vaccine. This is because the effectiveness of the vaccine declines with age in older age groups.
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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.
A New Shingles Vaccine
- U.S. News & World Report
If youre 50 or older, you’re advised to get immunized to protect yourself from shingles. If the new shingles vaccine made you feel worse than you expected, you’re not alone. Skin rash, joint pain, flu-like symptoms, headaches and fatigue are some complaints from patients who’ve had the recently approved Shingrix vaccine. Side effects can last two or three days, and the injection site in the upper arm can hurt. “Part of the problem is that health care providers may not have fully understood the instructions of administration,” said Talia Swartz, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Providers can refer to the website of Shingrix manufacturer GSK for complete administration instructions for this relatively unfamiliar vaccine, Dr. Swartz suggested. “As providers are more comfortable with it, I believe the administration errors would be expected to be reduced,” she said.
– Talia Swartz, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
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A Closer Look At The Safety Data
Both Shingrix and Zostavax shingles vaccines have been shown to be safe and well tolerated. Common side effects, such as soreness and redness at the injection site, are usually mild to moderate in intensity and resolve quickly on their own.
In 8 clinical trials of more than 10,000 participants:
- Grade 3 reactions were common after patients received Shingrix.
- About 1 out of 10 adults who received Shingrix reported grade 3 injection-site symptoms such as pain, redness, and swelling.
- About 1 out of 10 reported grade 3 systemic reactions such as myalgia , fatigue , headache, shivering, fever, and gastrointestinal illness.
- Most people who got Shingrix reported at least some pain at the injection site.
- A 2013 study showed that patients with a history of a previous shingles rash had the same side effects after Zostavax as those with no history of shingles. See Safety of zoster vaccine in elderly adults following documented herpes zoster.
How Do You Get Immunised Against Shingles
You can only get the shingles vaccine on its own, not as a combination vaccine. It is given as a needle.
Shingles vaccines include:
Note the Zostavax vaccine contains a small amount of the live virus. Some people may not be able to receive a live vaccine for medical reasons, please discuss with your doctor or immunisation provider for further information.
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Persons With Chronic Diseases
Although definitive data are lacking, individuals with autoimmune disease not being treated with immunosuppressive drugs are not considered significantly immunocompromised. Individuals 50 years of age without contraindications should receive RZV.
Benefits Of Shingles Vaccination
Shingles vaccination significantly reduces your risk of developing shingles. Vaccination of older adults reduces the number of shingles cases in that population by about half, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Adults who get shingles despite vaccination typically get a much milder case than unvaccinated adults. Vaccination also greatly reduces an individuals risk of shingles complications, including post-herpetic neuralgia or vision loss.
Studies have found that the Shingrix vaccine is 97% effective in preventing shingles in adults ages 50 to 69 and 91% effective in adults ages 70 and older. The vaccine is 91% effective in preventing PHN in adults ages 50 to 69 and 89% effective in preventing this complication in adults ages 70 and older.
The Shingrix vaccine does not contain any live virus, so you cannot contract shingles from vaccination.
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Simultaneous Administration With Other Vaccines
RZV and LZV may be administered concomitantly with other live vaccines given by the parenteral, oral, or intranasal routes. For concomitant parenteral injections, different injection sites and separate needles and syringes should be used.
In general, inactivated vaccines including RZV may be administered concomitantly with, or at any time before or after, other inactivated vaccines or live vaccines protecting against a different disease.
LZV may be given at any time before or after live oral or intranasal vaccines. If two live parenteral vaccines are not administered concomitantly, there should be a period of at least 4 weeks before the second live parenteral vaccine is given.
Concomitant administration of pneumococcal 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine and LZV has not resulted in decreased efficacy and so the two vaccines can be given concomitantly.
For more information, refer to Timing of Vaccine Administration in Part 1.
Is The Vaccine Safe
The vaccine can be given to people with a previous history of shingles infection. It should not be given to anyone who currently has shingles. As stated above, the vaccine should not be given to people who are clinically immunosuppressed because the vaccine strain could replicate too much and cause a serious infection. For more information see the MHRA’s Drug Safety Update .
In clinical trials of the vaccine, there have been no reports of someone who was vaccinated passing the virus on to anyone else. However, because the shingles vaccine is a live vaccine, it is thought that this may be possible in rare cases.
There is thought to be a very small risk that someone who has been vaccinated could pass on the virus to someone who is not immune to chickenpox. This is only thought to be a risk if the person who has been vaccinated develops a shingles type rash at the injection site or elsewhere on the body.
The shingles vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women as a matter of caution. However, studies have been carried out on pregnant women who have accidentally received chickenpox or shingles vaccines. These have not shown any link between the weakened virus in the vaccine and any specific problems in babies born to these women. See this Public Health England statement for more information.
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Possible Side Effects From Vaccines
Any vaccine can cause side effects. For the most part these are minor and go away within a few days. Listed below are vaccines licensed in the United States and side effects that have been associated with each of them. This information is copied directly from CDCs Vaccine Information Statements , which in turn are derived from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations for each vaccine.
Remember, vaccines are continually monitored for safety, and like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. However, a decision not to immunize a child also involves risk and could put the child and others who come into contact with him or her at risk of contracting a potentially deadly disease.
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.
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What Are The Prices For Vaccines At Walgreens
The amount you spend out of pocket for a vaccine depends on several factors. If you have insurance, you may have responsibility for part of the cost or you may not have to pay anything for certain vaccinations.
Where you live also can impact what you pay for a vaccine, even at the same retailer. For example, a Walgreens pharmacy in Alaska may charge a different cash price than a Walgreens pharmacy in California or a Duane Reade pharmacy in New Jersey.
Here is how out-of-pocket costs compare at Walgreens and Duane Reade pharmacies in four states:
Walgreens Pharmacy: Las Vegas, Nevada
Duane Reade Pharmacy: New York City
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Who Should Get The Shingles Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you should get a shingles vaccine if you:
- Are an adult aged 50 and older
- Have never had shingles
- Have had shingles before
- Aren’t sure whether you’ve had chickenpox
- Have been previously vaccinated with the Zostavax shingles vaccine
- Are age 19 or older and are immunodeficient or immunosuppressed because of disease or therapy
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What Are The Side Effects Of The Shingles Vaccine
Just like with any other medication or vaccine, there is always a risk of potential side effects or allergic reactions. The shingles vaccine, however, is considered to be safe and poses a small risk of side effects.
- The Zostavax shingles vaccine may cause:
- Redness, soreness, swelling, or itching at the site of the injection, or
Who Should Not Receive The Shingles Vaccine
Some people should not get the shingles vaccine:
- Individuals with weakened immune systems due to: acute and chronic leukemias lymphoma other conditions affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system or immunosuppression due to HIV/AIDS
- Individuals on immunosuppressive therapy
- Individuals with a history of severe reaction after previous administration of the vaccine
- Individuals with proven hypersensitivity to any component of the vaccine or its container, including gelatin or neomycin
- Individuals with active untreated tuberculosis
- Individuals who are pregnant
You should not get the vaccine if you currently have shingles. If you recently had shingles, you should wait at least one year before receiving the vaccine.
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Uncommon Rare And Very Rare Adverse Events
Uncommon adverse events occur in 0.1% to less than 1% of vaccinees. Rare and very rare adverse events occur, respectively, in 0.01% to less than 0.1% and less than 0.01% of vaccinees.
Both HZ vaccines are safe with serious adverse events reported very rarely in immunocompetent individuals.
Recurrence or exacerbation of herpes zoster ophthalmicus following LZV vaccination has been reported very rarely, involving several cases world-wide following LZV immunization. Following a causality assessment of seven cases of HZO which were temporally associated with the administration of LZV, NACI concluded that there was insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the administration of LZV in individuals with a history of HZO. More evidence is required for further assessment of risk related to HZO recurrence in LZV recipients. At this time, there is insufficient evidence to assess the risk related to HZO recurrence following RZV recipients.
Dont Overpay: Advice For Medicare Patients
Three out of four Americans eligible for the shingles vaccination still havent gotten it, according to the CDC. Not surprisingly, a 2015 report from the National Vaccine Program found that one of the main reasons adults skip recommended vaccines is the cost.
If youve been putting off getting your shingles shot because you were quoted a high price, check your Part D plan. You may be able to get it for less.
Confusion about insurance coverage for the vaccine can sometimes result in patients paying more than they should, Avitzur says.
Dont delay, as the consequences of shingles can be devastating, advises Avitzur, a neurologist who has seen firsthand the painful effects of lingering nerve damage.
Your best bet may be to get the shot at a pharmacy in your drug plans network. Youll still need to get a prescription from your doctor, but the pharmacy will bill your insurance company and youll pay the lowest out-of-pocket costs available under your plan.
If you would like to get vaccinated at your doctors office, ask up front about the cost. Does your doctor charge more to administer the shot than your plan allows? If so, youll be on the hook for the difference. Also see whether the office will bill your Part D or Medicare Advantage plan directly or work with a pharmacy in your network to handle the billing.
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