How You Get Shingles
You dont catch shingles. Chickenpox virus caught earlier in your life reactivates later to cause shingles. You cant catch shingles from someone who has chickenpox.
However, if you have shingles blisters, the virus in the fluid can infect someone who has not had chickenpox and they may develop chickenpox.
Will We Always Need Shingles Shots
People over the age of 50 usually had chickenpox as kids because the virus that causes it, varicella-zoster, is highly contagious. That said, theres now a generation of people who managed to avoid the once-common childhood illness because a chickenpox vaccine has been available in the United States since 1995.
Poland pointed out that only people who had chickenpox can get shingles, and since chickenpox can be prevented, there may come a time when shingles will be rare.
Once we reach a point where most people were vaccinated against chickenpox as children, Poland said its still an open question as to whether shingles vaccines will continue to be necessary.
Should You Get Shingrix If You Had The Zostavax Shingles Vaccine
It is recommended that you get two doses of Shingrix even if you got a different shingles vaccine in the past. Before Shingrix was approved, the Zostavax shingles vaccine was available. It was discontinued in November 2020 as Shingrix is much more effective. If you had the Zostavax vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider about getting Shingrix.
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What Side Effects Are Associated With The Shingrix Vaccine
There are some side effects associated with the Shingrix vaccine that your healthcare provider will speak to you about, but for the most part, they are mild and last two to three days. The most common side effect is soreness in the arm that receives the vaccine. Other side effects include:
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What Does The Shingles Vaccine Do
The shingles vaccine can prevent shingles. Every year, about 1 million people in the United States get shingles. Anyone whos had chickenpox can get shingles. Thats because the varicella-zoster virus lives silently in your nervous system after you’ve had chickenpox. The virus can reactivate later in your life if your immune system is weakened. Your risk of getting shingles goes up as you get older. In the United States, 1 in 3 people will get shingles in their lifetime.
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Who Should Not Get Zostavax
Some people should not get shingles vaccine :
The Shingles Prevention Study involved individuals age 60 years and older and found that Zostavax significantly reduced disease in this age group. The vaccine is currently recommended for persons 60 years of age and older.
- A person who has ever had a life-threatening or severe allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of shingles vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
- A person who has a weakened immune system because of:
- HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system,
- treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids,
- cancer treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy, or
- cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma.
Someone with a minor acute illness, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. But anyone with a moderate or severe acute illness should usually wait until they recover before getting the vaccine. This includes anyone with a temperature of 101.3°F or higher.
This information was taken from the Shingles Vaccine Information Statement dated 10/06/2009.
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.
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If Youre 50 Or Older Get Shingrix
- Shingrix provides strong protection from shingles and long-term nerve pain.
- Get Shingrix even if you already had shingles, because you can get the disease more than once.
- Your risk of shingles and complications increases as you age.
- You need 2 doses of Shingrix. Get the second dose 2 to 6 months after you get the first dose.
How Long Does The Shingles Vaccine Last Topic Guide
- Shingles is a painful belt-like patterned rash caused by varicella-zoster virus . The varicella-zoster virus is a type of herpesvirus. Shingles symptoms include unusual sensations such as tingling, itching, or burning in an area of skin on one side of the body fever, headache, feeling unwell , and bands of blisters on the body.
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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.
Make A Plan To Get 2 Doses
- You can get Shingrix at your doctors office or pharmacy. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about getting Shingrix.
- Plan to get your second dose of Shingrix 2 to 6 months after your first dose.
Five years later, I still take prescription medication for pain. My shingles rash quickly developed into open, oozing sores that in only a few days required me to be hospitalized. I could not eat, sleep, or perform even the most minor tasks. It was totally debilitating. The pain still limits my activity levels to this day.
A 63-year-old harpist who was unable to continue playing due to shingles
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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.
Who Should Get Zostavax
People 60 years of age or older should get shingles vaccine . They should get the vaccine whether or not they recall having had chickenpox, which is caused by the same virus as shingles. Studies show that more than 99% of Americans aged 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember getting the disease. There is no maximum age for getting shingles vaccine.
Two vaccines are licensed and recommended to prevent shingles in the U.S.. Zoster vaccine live has been in use since 2006. Recombinant zoster vaccine , has been in use since 2017 and is recommended by ACIP as the preferred shingles vaccine.
Even if you have had shingles, you can still receive shingles vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time you must wait after having shingles before receiving shingles vaccine, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated. The decision on when to get vaccinated should be made with your healthcare provider.
Talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions about shingles vaccine. Shingles vaccine is available in doctors offices and pharmacies. To find doctors offices or pharmacies near you that offer the vaccine, visit Zostavax or HealthMap Vaccine Finder.
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Who Should Avoid Getting The Shingrix Vaccine
You should not get Shingrix if you:
- Have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the Shingrix vaccine
- Currently have shingles
- Currently are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Tested negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus
- Have a moderate or severe illness with a temperature of 101.3º F
- Have gotten Varivax less than eight weeks ago
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 Shouldnt Have The Vaccination
There are 2 shingles vaccines available. One contains a weakened version of the live shingles virus.
The live vaccine is the one that is routinely used in the UK but people who have weakened immune systems, for example due to cancer treatment, should not have it. They should have the inactivated shingles vaccine. Your doctor will advise whether this applies to you. Further information is available on the Shingrix vaccine.
If youve had a severe reaction to any of the substances that go into the vaccine, you shouldnt have it. Again, your GP will advise you.
The live shingles vaccine used in the UK contains porcine gelatine. Some people may not want this vaccine but it is the recommended vaccine unless you cannot have it because you have a weakened immune system.
If you have the Zostavax vaccine, you will just need one injection. If you are not eligible for the live vaccine, you will need 2 doses of the Shingrix vaccine 2 months apart to give you the best protection. Once your course is completed, you will not need any more shingles vaccines.
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.
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Why Is It Important To Receive A Vaccination Against Shingles
About 33% of adults in the U.S. will develop shingles at some point in their lives. Shingles can cause painful blisters, a rash, chills, and fever, among other symptoms. Many people who have shingles later develop PHN, which can cause long-lasting pain that is difficult to treat.
Getting the Shingrix vaccine can help individuals avoid shingles and PHN and help prevent shingles from spreading to vulnerable people.
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.
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New Shingles Vaccine Shingrix Much More Effective
This past fall, a new shingles vaccine, Shingrix, was approved by the FDA and marked the first major development in the prevention of this devastating disease in over 10 years. The excitement about this new vaccine, coupled with the fact that one in every three adults will suffer from the shingles, has generated a lot of buzz and a lot of questions among my patients here at Methodist Physicians Clinic Indian Hills.
How Funding For Vaccines Is Decided
Pharmac is responsible for deciding which vaccines are funded and what groups are eligible for free vaccines. Pharmac’s Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee considered the cost and benefits when determining the appropriate age to offer a free shingles vaccine and recommended that free vaccination at 65 years was the best approach.
You can find further information about the funding of shingles vaccine on Pharmacs website:
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.
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 Get The Shingrix Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control recommends that healthy adults aged 50 and older receive the Shingrix vaccine in order to protect themselves against shingles. The vaccine should be administered in two doses, separated by two to six months, in order to protect against contracting the shingles virus and experiencing complications from the virus, including postherpetic neuralgia. Other shingles vaccines, such as Zostavax, do exist and have been in use since 2006. However, the Shingrix vaccine is preferred and is recommended over Zostavax. Patients who are allergic to Shingrix, need immediate vaccination and do not have access to Shingrix, or prefer the Zostavax vaccine over Shingrix may still use the Zostavax vaccine if they are healthy and aged 60 or older. However, even patients who have already received Zostavax are recommended to receive the Shingrix vaccine, as it is more effective at preventing shingles. People should get the Shingrix vaccine even if the following are true:
They have had shingles in the past.
They have received the Zostavax vaccine.
They are not sure if they have had chickenpox.