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.
What Are The Side Effects
Shingrix can make the area where you get the shot swell or feel sore. Other effects include:
- Many people who get the vaccine have muscle aches, headaches, or feel tired.
- About 1 in 4 people have a fever or an upset stomach.
Younger people are more likely to have these side effects, and they typically last 2 or 3 days.
Itâs also possible to have an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the vaccine. If you have problems breathing, feel your face or throat swelling, or feel weak or dizzy after the shot, call 911 and get medical help right away.
Side Effects Of The Shingles Vaccine: Is It Safe
If you had chickenpox as a child, the virus hasnt completely gone away. It hides dormant in your body and can reemerge many years later as shingles.
About 1 in 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime. This is why vaccination is important. But you should also be prepared for possible side effects. In this article, well discuss the side effects, and talk about who should get the vaccine.
Older adults are most likely to develop shingles. This is why the shingles vaccine is recommended for people ages 50 and older.
Shingrix is the only shingles vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration .
The Shingrix vaccine is a recombinant vaccine. This means vaccine manufacturers created it by altering and purifying DNA that creates an immune response to fight the virus.
The CDC recommends Shingrix for the prevention of shingles and related complications. The Shingrix vaccine is also recommended for anyone who has already gotten another type of shingles vaccine.
Currently, the CDC recommends healthy people ages 50 and older get the Shingrix vaccine. Doctors administer the vaccine in two doses, which are given 2 to 6 months apart.
The Shingrix vaccine has high success rates in protecting people against shingles.
The Shingrix vaccine is as much as effective in preventing shingles. The same is true for Shingrix and postherpetic neuralgia.
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How Is Shingrix Given
Shingrix is given as an injection into a muscle. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.
Shingrix is usually given in a series of 2 shots:
the second shot may be given any time within 2 to 6 months after the first shot.
for people who have a weak immune system, the second shot may be given any time within 1 to 2 months after the first shot.
You may receive this vaccine at the same time that you get a flu shot.
Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
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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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.
What Is The Shingles Vaccine
The shingles vaccine can protect you against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , which is the most common complication of shingles. Shingles is a painful rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. The rash usually develops on one side of your body or face. It starts with red bumps and then the bumps turn into fluid-filled blisters.
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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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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.
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.
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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.
Shingles Vaccine Side Effects
Like all vaccines, the shingles vaccines can cause side effects, but they’re generally mild and do not last long.
Common side effects that occur in at least 1 in 10 people are:
- redness, pain, swelling, itching and warmth at the injection site
If any side effects carry on for longer than a few days, speak to your GP or practice nurse.
Tell your GP if you develop a rash after having the shingles vaccination.
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Long Term Side Effects
In rare cases, the live shingles vaccine, Zostavax, can cause a skin rash or shingles.
The rash that occurs with shingles can affect any area of the body, but it often appears as a line of blisters that wraps around the torso.
Within a few days the blisters cluster, and they continue to form for several more days. The blisters can take 2Ã¢3 weeks to heal, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Other common symptoms of shingles include:
two shingles vaccines for adults: the recombinant zoster vaccine and the zoster virus vaccine .
Does The Shingles Vaccine Contain Thimerosal
You may be concerned about additives to the shingles vaccine, like thimerosal.
Thimerosal is a preservative that contains mercury. Its added to some vaccines to prevent bacteria and other germs from growing in them. The shingles vaccine contains thimerosal.
The worry about thimerosal arose when early research linked it to autism. This connection has since been found to be untrue.
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Can The Shingles Shot Cause Guillain
Though rare, but Guillain-Barré syndrome can occur with both the shingles vaccine and the shingles virus itself.
Symptoms of this serious autoimmune disorder include a loss of sensation and muscle paralysis that tends to come on quickly, typically spreading up from your lower extremities.
It can be life-threatening, so contact a healthcare provider immediately if you think you may have symptoms.
What Else To Know About The Shingles Vaccine
Ready to get vaccinated? This is the essential info on how the shots are given, what to expect with side effects, and more.
You need two doses of Shingrix to get full protection from shingles. You should get your second dose 2 to 6 months after the first. Your doctor or pharmacist will inject the vaccine into the muscle of your upper arm, so wear clothes that give easy access to that area.
If it has been more than 6 months since you got your first dose, go ahead and get your second dose. You donât need to start over, Dooling says.
Because Shingrix is so new, experts arenât sure whether youâll eventually need another shot, or a booster, years down the road.
âThe CDC is actively following how protected people remain after the two-dose series,â she says. We know that after 4 years, protection remains above 85%. Only time will tell how durable that protection is.â
You do not have to wait between Shingrix and COVID-19 vaccination. The CDC has determined its safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as Shingrex, but recommends they be given in different arms. You should not get eithe vaccine if you have COVID.
Side effects are fairly common. You may have heard that people sometimes have unpleasant side effects soon after they get the shingles vaccine.
âShingrix tends to have has more side effects than some vaccines, like those for the seasonal flu,â says Kistler. The shingles vaccine may cause:
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Patient Reports Of Side Effects
During the first eight months of Shingrixs post-marketing use, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, received 4,381 total reports of adverse events of these 130 were serious.
For every 100,000 doses distributed, the CDC found 136 complaints filed in the system. Approximately 3.2 million doses were distributed by GlaxoSmithKline during the eight-month period of reporting analyzed by the CDC.
Fever, chills and body aches and pain, swelling and redness in the arm receiving the shot were common side effects.
Yet seven patients died within six hours to six weeks of receiving Shingrix, the CDC said. The cause of four of these deaths was cardiovascular disease . Two were immunosuppressed patients who died of sepsis. And one 86-year-old woman died after a fall. v An eighth death after the use of Shingrix was also reported to VAERS, though this was not confirmed by the CDC.
Dr. Elisabeth M. Hesse, lead author of the report and a medical officer in the CDCs Office of Immunization Safety, wrote in an email that no information in medical documentation indicated the reported deaths were related to vaccination.
She noted that the Rotashield vaccine for infants was withdrawn from the market after reports to VAERS of bowel obstruction and an investigation that verified these claims.
More Information On Side Effects
Reactions listed under possible side effects or adverse events on vaccine product information sheets may not all be directly linked to the vaccine. See Vaccine side effects and adverse reactions for more information on why this is the case.
If you are concerned about any reactions that occur after vaccination, consult your doctor. In the UK you can report suspected vaccine side effects to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency through the Yellow Card Scheme . See more information on the Yellow Card scheme and monitoring of vaccine safety.
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What Are Common Side Effects Of Zostavax
About 1 in 3 people suffer injection suffer redness, soreness, swelling, or itching at the site of the injection. About 1 in 70 people experience a headache.
Some people who get the shingles vaccine develop a chickenpox-like rash near the place where they were vaccinated. This rash is potentially contagious and it should be covered to avoid transmission of the varicella zoster virus to young children, pregnant women, or people with weakened immune systems.
The most common side effects of the shingles vaccine include:
- Injection-site reactions
Who Shouldnt Get The Shingles Vaccine
There are a few situations in which shingles vaccination may not be right for you. You should not get Shingrix if youâve ever had a severe reaction to a vaccine. This means you had trouble breathing or swelling in your mouth or airway, a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis.
You should also skip Shingrix if:
- You have allergies to any parts of the vaccine. These include gelatin and the antibiotic neomycin. If you have other allergies, tell your doctor or pharmacist about them before you get Shingrix.
- You currently have shingles or another illness. You can get the vaccine when youâre well.
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding. You should wait until youâve stopped breastfeeding to get vaccinated.
- You happened to test negative for VZV, the virus that causes chickenpox. If youâre older than 50, you probably had chickenpox even if you donât remember it. The CDC does not recommend testing for this. However, if a blood test shows youâve never had the childhood illness, you should get the chickenpox vaccine instead.
If you have a disease or take medications that affect your immune system, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of Shingrix.
âItâs an individualized decision based on factors such as the specific medications and conditions of the person sitting in front of you,â Kistler says. She often consults with her patientsâ specialist doctors to make decisions about Shingrix.
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What Causes Shingles
Once a person has had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus remains dormant in the body and may be reactivated later in life, causing shingles.
Shingles itself is not transmitted from person-to-person, however, a person who never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine can get chickenpox from a person who has shingles.
Shingles is usually diagnosed with a physical examination and patient history.
A polymerase chain reaction test may be used to confirm a diagnosis.
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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