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
New Shingles Vaccine: What You Need To Know
Nov. 13, 2019 — Unlike some vaccines, thereâs been so much demand for the new shingles vaccineShingrix that itâs not always easy to find. It was approved in 2017, and the CDC recommends the vaccine for adults 50 and older to prevent this painful, blistering illness. It is being used in place of the previous vaccine, Zostavax.
More than a year later, doctors say they are learning more about how it works, its safety risks, and how it compares to Zostavax.
How effective is Shingrix?
âIt’s just remarkable,” says Wilbur Chen, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “It has performed better than I expected.”
In studies, Shingrix was more than 97% effective at preventing shingles in people 50 and older. It works just as well in older adults, who are at greater risk for a painful shingles complication called postherpetic neuralgia . “When 70- and 80-year-olds get shingles, it can be extremely debilitating,” Chen says.
By contrast, Zostavax cuts the risk of shingles by only 51% and PHN by 67%. It’s only about 38% effective in people over age 70.
How safe is Shingrix?
“So far so good,” Schaffner says. The main side effect is soreness in the arm where you get the shot.
Other side effects are mild and usually last for 2 to 3 days, including:
Who shouldn’t get Shingrix?
Can I get the Shingrix vaccine now?
What do doctors still need to learn about Shingrix?
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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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.
How Cdc Monitors Vaccine Safety
CDC and FDA monitor the safety of vaccines after they are approved or authorized. If a problem is found with a vaccine, CDC and FDA will inform health officials, health care providers, and the public.
CDC uses 3 systems to monitor vaccine safety:
- The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System : an early warning system, co-managed by CDC and FDA, to monitor for potential vaccine safety problems. Anyone can report possible vaccine side effects to VAERS.
- The Vaccine Safety Datalink : a collaboration between CDC and 9 health care organizations that conducts vaccine safety monitoring and research.
- The Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Project: a partnership between CDC and several medical research centers that provides expert consultation and conducts clinical research on vaccine-associated health risks.
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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.
Important Facts About Shingles
The virus that causes shingles is the varicella zoster virus , which is the same one that causes chickenpox. After someone recovers from chickenpox and the rash goes away, the VZV virus still remains in the body. It stays dormant, but it is possible for it to reactivate later in a persons life, which is what causes shingles.
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When Should I See A Doctor Because Of The Side Effects I Experience From Shingrix
Shingrix causes a strong response in your immune system, so it may produce short-term side effects. These side effects can be uncomfortable, but they are expected and usually go away on their own in 2 or 3 days. You may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Contact your healthcare provider if the symptoms are not improving or if they are getting worse.
In clinical trials, Shingrix was not associated with serious adverse events. In fact, serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. For example, for every 1 million doses of a vaccine given, only one or two people might have a severe allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction happen within minutes or hours after vaccination and include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness. If you experience these or any other life-threatening symptoms, see a doctor right away.
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.
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How Effective Is The Shingles Vaccine In Preventing Shingles
The shingles vaccine can provide strong protection against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , the most commonly occurring shingles complication.
The shingles vaccine is 97% effective in preventing shingles in people ages 50 to 69 years old. Its 91% effective in people ages 70 years and older.
In addition, the shingles vaccine is 91% effective in preventing PHN in people ages 50 to 69 years old. Its 89% effective in people ages 70 years and older.
How Many Doses Of The Vaccine Do I Need
In most cases, the shingles vaccine is given as one dose.
If you have a severely weakened immune system you will be offered a second dose of the vaccine at least 8 weeks after your first dose.
Speak to a healthcare professional about getting other vaccines at the same time so they can advise what’s best for your individual circumstances.
You should ideally wait seven days between the coronavirus vaccination and shingles vaccination.
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Who Is At Risk Of Getting Shingles
If you have had chickenpox, youre at risk for developing shingles and this risk increases substantially as you age, with shingles being the most common in those who are more than 50 years old.
If your immune system is suppressed because of disease, cancer treatment, or immunosuppressive drugs, you are also at a higher risk for developing shingles.
How To Pay For Shingrix
Commercial insurance covers about 96% of insured people for the Shingrix vaccine. Most people with private insurance will pay under $5 for each dose.
Programs like Medicaid cover Shingrix in certain states. Medicare Parts A and B do not cover the shingles vaccine. But individuals covered under Medicare prescription drug plans, or Part D, will have their vaccines covered.
For people who do not have access to insurance, there are a number of vaccine assistance programs and affordable health coverage options available. Many of these programs provide vaccines at little or no cost.
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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.
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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Can You Get Shingles After Youve Been Vaccinated
While the shingles vaccine is highly effective, some people can still get shingles. However, people who do get shingles after getting the shingles vaccine usually have milder symptoms and a shorter illness. Youll also be less likely to have complications from shingles, including postherpetic neuralgia.
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.
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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.
Know Your Risk Of Getting Shingles And Complications
About 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime.
If youve had chickenpox, you are at risk for shingles. More than 99% of Americans born before 1980 have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember it.
Your risk of getting shingles and having serious complications increases as you get older.
About 1 in 10 people who get shingles develop nerve pain that lasts for months or years after the rash goes away. This is called postherpetic neuralgia and is the most common complication of shingles.
Shingles may lead to other serious complications involving the eye, including blindness. Very rarely, it can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, brain inflammation or death.
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Why The Latest Shingles Vaccine Is More Than 90 Percent Effective
- Westmead Institute for Medical Research
- A new study has shown how the body’s immune system responds to the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix, making it more than 90 percent effective at protecting against the virus.
A new study has shown how the body’s immune system responds to the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix, making it more than 90% effective at protecting against the virus.
The trial included more than 15,000 participants across 18 countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and Australia. Participants in the trial received two doses of the vaccine, with the doses given two months apart.
Lead researcher Professor Tony Cunningham from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research said the study shows that the vaccine stimulates production of a specific immune memory cell , generating a strong and sustained protection against the virus.
“The body has two types of immunity: protein antibodies and white blood cells known as T cells. As the virus circulates around the body, antibodies block it from entering cells. But when the virus does get into cells your T cells try to kill those infected cells.
“Our research shows that the vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce more antibodies and it generates a 24-fold increase in T cells. This is 12 times higher than other less effective shingles vaccines.
“The second dose of the vaccine is important to ensure long-term protection,” Professor Cunningham said.
When Should You Get Vaccinated Against Shingles
Most people should be vaccinated against shingles at ages 50 and over. People ages 18 and over who have health conditions or take medications that can weaken the immune system should consider getting the shingles vaccine before age 50.
For people receiving the vaccine at ages 50 and over, there is no particular time and no maximum age when you should be vaccinated.
Vaccination against shingles can be done on its own or alongside other vaccinations, like for the flu or pneumonia. Generally, the vaccine is given in two doses, with the second dose given 2 to 6 months after the first dose.
For people who are receiving the shingles vaccine because of an immune deficiency, the second dose can be given sooner: 1 to 2 months after the first dose.
In this case, if possible, shingles vaccination should be timed with your immune response. This could mean waiting until after a flare-up of your condition has subsided or getting the vaccine before you receive certain immune-suppressing medications.
7 years and remains effective afterward.
Speak with a doctor about how often you should be vaccinated for shingles based on your specific immune system and health concerns.
The shingles vaccine that is currently available in the United States was introduced in 2017, so you may have questions about it. Below are answers to some of the most common questions.
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Side Effects And Counseling For Reactogenicity
In eight clinical trials of more than 10,000 immunocompetent participants 50 years or older, 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. Also, 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.
Local and systemic grade 3 reactions among immunocompromised adults were evaluated in six studies in five immunocompromised groups. Local grade 3 reactions occurred in 10.7% to 14.2% of RZV recipients, and systemic grade 3 reactions occurred in 9.9% to 22.3% of RZV recipients, compared with 0% to 0.3% and 6.0% to 15.5%, respectively, among placebo recipients. The most commonly reported systemic symptoms were fatigue and myalgia.
Healthcare providers should counsel patients about expected reactogenicity before administering Shingrix.
What to tell patients about the side effects of Shingrix:
Most people have a sore arm after they get Shingrix. Many people have redness and swelling on their arm spanning several inches where they got the shot. Many people also feel tired or have muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea.
Who Can Give The Vaccine
There is not much you need to do to prepare to get a shingles vaccine. You dont even necessarily need an appointment.
A doctor can schedule a time to give you the vaccine, but licensed pharmacists are also allowed to administer it. Some pharmacies offer shingles vaccines on a walk-in basis. Check with your healthcare professional or pharmacy to be sure.
Whether youve made an appointment or walked into a pharmacy for vaccination, the next steps are simple.
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Who Should Get Shingrix
Adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months. Adults 19 years and older who have or will have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses of Shingrix. If needed, people with weakened immune systems can get the second dose 1 to 2 months after the first.
You should get Shingrix even if in the past you:
- Received varicella vaccine
There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.
If you had shingles in the past, Shingrix can help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time that you need to wait after having shingles before you can receive Shingrix, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has gone away before getting vaccinated.
Chickenpox and shingles are related because they are caused by the same virus . After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body. It can reactivate years later and cause shingles.
Shingrix is available in doctors offices and pharmacies.
If you have questions about Shingrix, talk with your healthcare provider.
* A shingles vaccine called zoster vaccine live is no longer available for use in the United States, as of November 18, 2020. If you had Zostavax in the past, you should still get Shingrix. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best time to get Shingrix.