When Should I Get The Second Dose
The CDC recommends that adults ages 50 and older get a second dose of Shingrix two to six months after their first dose. If youve waited longer than six months since your first dose of Shingrix, its safe to get a second dose right away. Most people dont need to repeat the first dose.
Some immunocompromised adults may need a second dose within one to two months. If you have a disease or are taking medication that affects your immune system, talk to your healthcare provider about the best timeline for your two doses of the shingles vaccine.
Side Effects Of Shingles Vaccine
The most common shingles shot side effects include pain and soreness at the injection site. Some people also notice a bit of redness, swelling or itching at the site of the shot. Other side effects of the shingles vaccine may include fatigue, muscle pain, headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. According to the CDC, side effects are more common in younger people than older people.
Most people can resume their regular activities immediately after vaccination. However, about 1 out of 6 people develop flu-like symptoms that last anywhere from 1 to 3 days.
Side effects can occur after the first, second, or both doses of Shingrix vaccine. If possible, it is a good idea to schedule vaccination the day before some downtime, so you can rest if you develop side effects.
If you develop flu-like symptoms after shingles vaccination, you can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to control your fever and improve comfort. Those who develop flu-like symptoms after their first dose of vaccine may want to pre-medicate with ibuprofen or acetaminophen an hour or so before their second dose. Your healthcare provider can answer your questions about shingles vaccine side effects and pre-medication for vaccination.
Serious side effects are rare, but not impossible, after shingles vaccination. If you develop hives, swelling of the face or throat, difficulty breathing, a rapid heartbeat, or sudden dizziness or weakness, and seek medical care immediately.
What Vaccine Is Used
The Zostavax vaccine is routinely used in Scotland.
This shingles vaccine contains a weakened form of the virus that causes shingles. Because its weakened, it does not cause the illness. It helps to build up your immunity to the virus, so your body will fight it off more easily if it affects you again.
If you have a severely weakened immune system, you may be offered the Shingrix vaccine. This vaccine is not live. Your health professional will be able to advise on which vaccine is right for you.
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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.
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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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.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
For most people, the effects of Shingrix are mild and short-term. In very rare cases, Shingrix can cause more serious side effects.
Seek urgent medical care if you experience signs of a severe allergic reaction a few minutes or hours after your second dose of Shingrix, such as:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Facial swelling
- Swelling in the throat or mouth
You should also let your healthcare provider know if your Shingrix side effects are severe or arent going away on their own.
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Pain At Injection Site
Pain at the injection site is a common side effect of many vaccines, including Shingrix. This pain is generally mild but can feel like anything from slight discomfort to deep bruising. In some cases, injection site pain can be severe enough to limit arm movement.
To ease this discomfort, you can apply cold packs to the affected area for 20 minutes at a time.
If these arent effective, over-the-counter pain remedies may help. However, if you have injection site pain that is severe or lasts longer than 2 to 3 days, follow up with your doctor.
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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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.
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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When They Start How Long They Last
The shingles vaccine is given in a two-shot series. You may experience side effects after the first, second, or both shots. Most of the time, these symptoms are mild and occur immediately following vaccination. They typically only last for two or three days.
Side effects of the shingles vaccine are more common in younger people, and might interrupt your normal daily activities for a few days.
This may seem like a downside of the shingles vaccine, but remember that these symptoms are a result of the creation of a strong shingles defense within your body.
It is OK to take Tylenol or Advil after a shingles vaccine to relieve symptoms. Rest and plenty of fluids may help, too.
Is The Shingles Vaccine Safe
According to the CDC, research has shown that Shingrix is safe.
Some people experience short-term adverse effects, such as a fever, muscle aches, and headaches. However, these usually last only 2â3 days .
In rare cases, people have developed Guillain-BarrÃ© syndrome after having the shingles vaccine. However, this can also happen after shingles. GBS is a severe nervous system disorder.
The recommends Shingrix for people who have or are likely to have a weakened immune system due to a health condition or treatment. Having a weakened immune system increases a personâs risk of developing shingles.
It can happen with the following:
- a medical condition that compromises the immune system, such as AIDS
- cancer that affects the lymphatic system or bone marrow
- cancer treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy
- medications that affect the immune system, such as steroids
However, a person with a weakened immune system should speak with their doctor about whether to have the vaccine and when.
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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 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
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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.
Administrative Hassles In Addition To Side Effects
Dr. Carla Perissinotto, associate professor and associate clinical chief in the Division of Geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote in an email that she has seen few patients get the vaccine due to the complexities of reimbursement through Medicare.
You have to bill the patient and then submit to Medicare, said Perissinotto, who was not involved in the new CDC report. It is administratively difficult for clinics to store Shingrix and then bill Medicare.
Based on discussion among the few of my colleagues who have experience with the shingles vaccine, she believes Shingrix has not caused severe or numerous side effects: so far, it has seemed well tolerated.
We would use more if the payment structure were easier. Which means that many of our patients, who would benefit, are not getting what they need.
Dr. Alison Moore, chief of geriatrics and gerontology at UC San Diego Health, told CNN in an email that she regularly recommends the vaccine given its effectiveness and superiority over the prior version of the vaccine, Zostavax, a live CDC-recommended vaccine for adults age 60 and older.
Because Shingrix is not a live vaccine, more people can have it, added Moore, who was not involved in the CDC report.
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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.
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.
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.
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Should I Get A Vaccine
Doctors say most healthy people over 50 should get Shingrix, as well as anyone 19 or older who are immunocompromised. Itâs available at pharmacies as well as doctorsâ offices. Most people have been exposed to the chickenpox even if they didnât actually develop symptoms.
You should get the Shingrix vaccine unless:
- You are allergic to any part of the vaccine
- Had a blood test that proves you never had chicken pox
- Have shingles now
- Are breastfeeding or nursing.
Side Effects Of The Shingles Vaccines
What patients can expect after Shingrix or Zostavax injections.
Any medicine, including vaccines, carries a risk of adverse events or side effects. The CDC estimates that vaccine-related reactions occur once in a million doses, usually within a few minutes or hours of the injection. Generally they are minor and subside within a day or two.
The two available vaccines for shingles-Shingrix and Zostavax-each has its own associated side effects. Patients should be informed about what to expect prior to vaccination to help them manage their expectations.
GSK, the manufacturer of Shingrix, says its most common side effects include pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site muscle pain tiredness headache shivering fever and upset stomach. While severe allergic reactions are less common, they may range from hives, swelling of the face and throat, and difficulty breathing to a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness.
In Shingrix clinical trials, the majority of people complained of mild to moderate pain in their arm, as well as redness and swelling at the injection site. About one in six people experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities for two to three days. These side effects were reportedly more common in younger people.
Both Merck, which manufacturers Zostavax, and GSK acknowledge that their vaccines may not protect all individuals, so some people who get shingles vaccine may still develop shingles.
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