Conditions Treated By Shingrix And Zostavax
Shingrix and Zostavax are FDA approved to prevent shingles . Both vaccines are indicated to prevent shingles in adults aged 50 years and older. Shingrix and Zostavax are not used to prevent primary varicella infection, also known as chickenpox.
Postherpetic neuralgia is a common type of nerve pain that arises with shingles. Because Shingrix and Zostavax can prevent shingles, they can also prevent postherpetic neuralgia and other painful complications from shingles. However, these vaccines are not labeled to treat PHN.
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.
How Do We Know The Vaccine Is Safe
All medicines are tested for safety and effectiveness by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency . The shingles vaccine meets the high safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries. The vaccine has been given to millions of people worldwide.
Once they’re in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the MHRA.
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What Are The Advantages Of Getting The Shingles Vaccine
The shingles vaccine reduces your risk of getting shingles. Shingles causes a painful rash that usually develops on one side of your body or face. Some people describe the pain as an intense burning or shooting sensation. The rash is often a single strip that wraps around one side of your body or is on one side of your face. It consists of blisters that normally crust over in seven to 10 days. The rash generally clears up within a month.
For some people, the pain from the rash can last for months or even years after the rash goes away. This long-term pain is called postherpetic neuralgia , and it is the most common complication of shingles.
What Else Do You Need To Make Your Decision
Check the facts
- That’s right. The vaccine greatly lowers your chances of getting shingles.
- Sorry, that’s wrong. The shingles vaccine greatly lowers your chances of getting shingles.
- It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” The shingles vaccine greatly lowers your chances of getting shingles.
- You’re right. But even if you do get shingles, your symptoms are likely to be much milder.
- Sorry, that’s wrong. You could still get shingles, but your chances are a lot lower with the vaccine.
- It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” You could still get shingles, but your chances are a lot lower with the vaccine.
- You’re right. The CDC recommends two doses of the shingles vaccine.
- Sorry, that’s wrong. The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine.
- It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine.
1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?
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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 .
When Should You Get Immunised Against Shingles
Anyone aged 60 years and over who wants to protect themselves against shingles can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.
Shingles immunisation is recommended for:
- adults aged 60 years and over who have not previously received zoster vaccine
- adults aged 70 years to 79 years, for free under the National Immunisation Program
- adults aged 50 or over who live in the same household as someone who has a weakened immune system.
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Who Should Get The Shingles Vaccine
The CDC recommends all healthy adults ages 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine to prevent shingles and problems that can develop after youve had the disease. The two doses should be separated by two to six months. You should get the shingles vaccine even if you:
- Have had shingles: If youve had shingles in the past, you should get the shingles vaccine to help prevent getting the disease again. You should wait until the shingles rash is gone before getting the vaccine.
- Arent sure if youve had chickenpox: Studies show more than 99% of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox at some point in their lives. You should get the shingles vaccine whether or not you remember having chickenpox because theyre caused by the same virus.
- Received the old shingles vaccine : Before November 18, 2020, people were vaccinated with a shingles vaccine called Zostavax. You cant get Zostavax in the United States anymore. If you were vaccinated with Zostavax, you should get vaccinated with the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix.
Who Is A Candidate For The Shingles Vaccine
Healthy adults aged 50 years and older are candidates for the shingles vaccine Shingrix. There is no age limit, and you can get the Shingrix vaccine even if you have already had shingles, have had the Zostavax vaccine, or do not remember whether you have had chickenpox in the past.
If you have already had shingles, getting the Shingrix can help protect you from the disease coming back. Studies have reported that almost every American aged 40 years and older have more than a 99% chance of having had chickenpox, and people who have had chickenpox are more likely to develop shingles in the future because both are caused by the same virusthe varicella-zoster virus.
After having shingles, there is no duration that you need to wait before getting vaccinated, although you should wait until the rash has completely disappeared. Shringrix is given in 2 doses 2-6 months apart.
Side effects are usually mild and may last for two to three days. No severe side effects for Shingrix have been reported so far.
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Are There Any Restrictions After A Shingles Shot
You should not receive the shingles vaccine if you are pregnant, if you have an active shingles infection, or if you previously had an allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine. If youre eligible for the vaccine and receive the vaccination, there are no restrictions afterward and you can leave the doctors office or pharmacy as soon as the shot is complete.
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:
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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.
Rare Side Effects Of The Shingles Vaccine
In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis may occur. This can be a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis after receiving the shingles vaccine include:
Typically, these side effects appear immediately or within a few minutes of vaccination your vaccination provider may be present. If you experience them after leaving the office, call 911.
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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.
What Everyone Should Know About The Shingles Vaccine
CDC recommends that adults 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease. Adults 19 years and older who have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses of Shingrix, as they have a higher risk of getting shingles and related complications.
Your doctor or pharmacist can give you Shingrix as a shot in your upper arm.
Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and PHN. In adults 50 years and older who have healthy immune systems, Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and PHN. Immunity stays strong for at least the first 7 years after vaccination. In adults with weakened immune systems, studies show that Shingrix is 68%-91% effective in preventing shingles, depending on the condition that affects the immune system.
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Who Should And Shouldnt Get The Vaccine
Shingrix is approved for all adults with normal immune systems who are 50 years old or older. This is 10 years younger than the recommendation for the older vaccine Zostavax, which marks a major change in vaccination practices and provides added protection against shingles earlier in life.
If you have already been vaccinated against shingles with Zostavax, dont worry we recommend you be revaccinated with the new Shingrix vaccine to give you added protection. There should be at least two months between the time you received Zostavax and the time you receive Shingrix.
If you have already had shingles, you arent immune from getting it again! Shingles can occur more than once in a lifetime and already having the infection does not protect you against future infections. We recommend you also be vaccinated with Shingrix if you have a healthy immune system. If you recently recovered from shingles, we recommend you wait until your rash and symptoms have resolved before getting the vaccine.
If you do not have a normal immune system , then we recommend you speak with your primary care provider to see if the shingles vaccination is right for you. If you are one of the rare few adults who has never had chicken pox, then we recommend you talk with your provider about getting the varicella vaccination instead.
Personal Stories About Considering A Shingles Vaccine
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
I talked to my doctor about the shingles vaccine and I think I’m going to get it. My wife had shingles 2 years ago, and she was really in a lot of pain. If I can avoid that by getting a vaccine, it will really be worth it to me.
I’m not going to get a vaccine, at least not right now. I don’t like to take medicines of any kind if I don’t have to.
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Obstacles To Getting Vaccinated
Despite the fact that the small, but vocal, group of individuals who oppose vaccinations remains strong, Jain says she hasnt encountered much opposition to getting vaccinated among her patients.
A lot of patients will actually come to me asking how they can get the shingles vaccination, so I actually have experienced the opposite, she said. Theres a very small percentage of patients, Id say under 10 percent, that are very averse to getting vaccinations, though.
Jain said that with these patients, their concerns often center around possible adverse effects from the vaccination, fears that theyll contract shingles by getting the vaccination, or the belief that since theyve never had the illness, they dont need the vaccine.
Another big concern that patients have is cost, Jain told Healthline in March 2018. Zostavax cost $213, and Shingrix costs about $280 out of pocket.
Prices have fluctuated slightly in 2019, with Shingrix at $185 per injection (.
She explained that even insurance or Medicare coverage doesnt solve the problem.
The issue is that Medicare Part B is not covering it, Medicare Part D is covering part of it, and Medicaid may or may not cover it it really depends on the insurer and the insurance plan, she said. So, I think cost is also a big barrier for patients as well.
Reasons To Get The Shingles Vaccine
Once a person develops chickenpox after contracting the varicella-zoster virus, the virus never leaves the body. It remains dormant in the nerve roots and can reappear as shingles later in life.
The primary symptom of shingles is a painful rash on one side of the body, most often on the torso or face. People initially have pain or a burning sensation on the skin without a rash, and then painful blisters develop. The rash lasts approximately seven to 10 days and fully clears within two to four weeks.
The likelihood of developing shingles increases dramatically after age 50. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all adults age 50 and over receive two doses of Shingrix to prevent shingles. The vaccine is recommended even if a person is unsure if they have ever had chickenpox.
People with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for shingles. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration also recently approved Shingrix vaccination for adults age 18 and older who are at risk for shingles due to immunodeficiency or immunosuppression caused by an underlying disease or medication.
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Who Needs A Shingles Vaccine
Shingrix is recommended for adults aged 50 or older. You should still get the vaccine even if youve had shingles in the past, as it is possible to get it again.
You can also get Shingrix if you received Zostavax in the past. This is important because studies have shown that the efficacy of Zostavax over time.
Who Can Have The Shingles Vaccination
The shingles vaccine is offered routinely as part of the NHS vaccination programme for people aged 70, 78 or 79. You become eligible for the vaccine on the first day of September 2014 after you’ve turned 70, 78 or 79 and remains so until the last day of August the following year.
You can have the shingles vaccination at any time of year, though many people will find it convenient to have the vaccine at the same time as their annual flu vaccination.
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How To Prevent Transmission
You cant catch shingles, and you cant give shingles to someone else. But you can give others chickenpox.
After you have chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus stays dormant in your body. If this virus reactivates, shingles occurs. Its possible to transmit this virus to others who arent immune while the shingles rash is still active. You are contagious to others until all areas of the rash are dried up and crusted over.
To catch the varicella-zoster virus from you, a person has to have direct contact with your rash blisters.
You can help prevent your transmission of the varicella-zoster virus by:
- keeping the rash loosely covered
- practicing frequent handwashing
- avoiding contact with people who may not have had chickenpox or who havent been vaccinated against chickenpox
Last medically reviewed on August 24, 2017
- Cohen KR, et al. . Presentation and management of herpes zoster in the geriatric population.