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.
Swelling Around The Injection Site
Swelling around the injection site is another common side effect of Shingrix. Like pain and redness, minor swelling can usually result from a localized immune system response, which isnt necessarily dangerous.
You can apply hydrocortisone cream on or around the injection site to reduce redness and swelling. However, if you experience severe swelling that doesnt go away, or the swelling accompanies other symptoms of an allergic reaction, seek medical attention right away.
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 isnt 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.
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Shingrix: Dont Miss Your Second Dose
If you received one dose of the Shingrix® vaccine but a shortage kept you from getting your second dose a painful case of shingles still could be in your future.
The makers of Shingrix claim its protection is sustained at a high level for at least four years but only if you get both doses two to six months apart. Many people rushed to get the Shingrix vaccine after it was introduced in 2017. But, shortages left some people without the crucial second dose. Supplies have rebounded, and the vaccine is now widely available.
Shingles is a painful rash that follows nerve pathways. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus . The virus can lie dormant in the nerves for many years. People older than age 50 have a greater risk of developing shingles.
Who should get vaccinated?
Shingrix is recommended for adults age 50 and older who have normal immune systems. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends that people previously vaccinated with the less-effective Zostavax® vaccine, be revaccinated with Shingrix even if they have never had chickenpox. Many patients who could not take Zostavax may be able to receive Shingrix.
Because the vaccine is preventive, health plans often fully cover the cost for members who fit the CDC prescribing guidelines .
If you have questions or need help locating a pharmacy or clinic with the Shingrix vaccine, call the customer service number on the back of your ID card or on page 23 of Blue & You.
Who Can Have The Shingles Vaccination
Shingles vaccination is available to everyone aged 70 to 79.
When you’re eligible, you can have the shingles vaccination at any time of year.
The shingles vaccine is not available on the NHS to anyone aged 80 or over because it seems to be less effective in this age group.
Read more about who can have the shingles vaccine.
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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 .
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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Considerations For Patients Who Previously Received Zostavax
Studies have not examined the safety and immunogenicity of Shingrix administered less than 5 years following Zostavax vaccination. However, there are no data or theoretical concerns to indicate that Shingrix would be less safe or less effective when given at an interval shorter than 5 years following Zostavax. Since the risk of herpes zoster increases with age, providers should weigh a patients risk of herpes zoster with the age-specific protection expected from Zostavax to determine when to vaccinate with Shingrix.
More Common Side Effects
The more common side effects of Shingrix can include:
- pain, redness, and swelling at site of injection*
- dizziness or fainting
- flu-like symptoms, including fever, shivering, and tiredness
Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If theyre more severe or dont go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
* For more information about this side effect, see Side effect details below.
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How Safe Is Shingrix
studies showed that Shingrix was safe and effective.
There have been concerns about ingredients, such as thimerosal, that may be added to vaccines. Thimerosal is a kind of preservative that contains mercury. Its added then taken out of some vaccines to keep other germs and bacteria from growing. The concern arose when early research connected thimerosal to autism. This link has since been found to be false. Shingrix doesnt contain thimerosal.
Who Shouldn’t Get It
A person should not get Shingrix if:
- They have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or the first dose of the vaccine.
- They test negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus.
- They currently have shingles.
- They are pregnant.
If you are experiencing a moderate to severe illness, with a fever or not, you should consider waiting until you are better before getting the vaccine.
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Is The Shingles Vaccine Covered By Insurance
The shingles vaccine may be covered by insurance depending upon the insurance program:
- Medicare: Medicare Part D covers shingles vaccine expenses, but it depends on the plan. You may need to pay either in part or full and then get it reimbursed. Medicare part B does not cover the vaccine.
- Medicaid: Medicaid may or may not cover the vaccine. You can find out by contacting your insurer.
- Private health insurance: Most private health insurance programs cover the shingles vaccine, but you may need to pay some part of the expenses depending on your plan.
- Vaccine assistance program: Check with the Shingrix manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, if they have a Shingrix vaccine assistance program. Through vaccine assistance programs, people who cannot afford the vaccine can get help in the form of free vaccination.
Why Do I Need Two Doses Of Shingrix
In addition to a painful rash, shingles can lead to serious health complications like PHN, pneumonia, vision loss, hearing problems, and encephalitis . Research indicates that about 1% to 4% of people with shingles will be hospitalized.
Two doses of Shingrix offer effective protection against shingles and related complications for at least seven years. Among healthy adults ages 50-69, Shingrix is more than 90% effective in preventing PHN when two doses are administered. Among adults ages 70 and older, it is 89% effective.
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Uncommon Rare And Very Rare Adverse Events
Uncommon adverse events occur in 0.1% to less than 1% of vaccinees. Rare and very rare adverse events occur, respectively, in 0.01% to less than 0.1% and less than 0.01% of vaccinees.
Both HZ vaccines are safe with serious adverse events reported very rarely in immunocompetent individuals.
Recurrence or exacerbation of herpes zoster ophthalmicus following LZV vaccination has been reported very rarely, involving several cases world-wide following LZV immunization. Following a causality assessment of seven cases of HZO which were temporally associated with the administration of LZV, NACI concluded that there was insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the administration of LZV in individuals with a history of HZO. More evidence is required for further assessment of risk related to HZO recurrence in LZV recipients. At this time, there is insufficient evidence to assess the risk related to HZO recurrence following RZV recipients.
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:
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.
Routine Vaccination Of People 50 Years Old And Older
CDC recommends Shingrix for the prevention of herpes zoster and related complications. CDC recommends two doses of Shingrix separated by 2 to 6 months for immunocompetent adults aged 50 years and older:
- Whether or not they report a prior episode of herpes zoster.
- Whether or not they report a prior dose of Zostavax, a shingles vaccine that is no longer available for use in the United States.
- It is not necessary to screen, either verbally or by laboratory serology, for evidence of prior varicella.
Recombinant and adjuvanted vaccines, such as Shingrix, can be administered concomitantly, at different anatomic sites, with other adult vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines. Coadministration of RZV with adjuvanted influenza vaccine and COVID-19 vaccines is being studied.
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How Is Shingles Spread
You do not “catch” shingles it comes on when there’s a reawakening of chickenpox virus that’s already in your body. The virus can be reactivated because of a range of issues, including advancing age, medicine, illness or stress.
Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles. It’s estimated that around 1 in 5 people who have had chickenpox go on to develop shingles.
Read more about the causes of shingles.
Cdc Recommendation For The Shingles Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend Shingrix as the preferred vaccine to prevent shingles and other complications from the disease.
The CDC found that Shingrix was more effective than Zostavax. It recommends that you receive Shingrix, even if youve had Zostavax in the past.
The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to suit your needs.
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Can I Get Shingrix If Ive Never Had Chickenpox
If youve never had chickenpox , the CDC recommends that you get the chickenpox vaccine instead of Shingrix. Researchers havent studied Shingrix in people who have never had chickenpox. And Shingrix is not approved for preventing chickenpox.
If you cant recall whether youve had chickenpox, you may need to be screened for it. But this will depend on your age.
Its assumed that people born in the United States and elsewhere before 1980 have been exposed to chickenpox. Therefore, you may be able to receive Shingrix. You should check with your doctor first to make sure.
How Do I Get The Shingles Vaccination
Once you become eligible for the shingles vaccination, a GP or practice nurse will offer you the vaccine when you attend the surgery for general reasons.
You can have a shingles vaccine at the same time as most other vaccines. But try to leave 7 days between the shingles vaccine and a coronavirus vaccine, so that if you have any side effects you’ll know which vaccine they were from.
If you are worried that you may miss out on the shingles vaccination, contact your GP surgery to arrange an appointment to have the vaccine.
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Talk With Your Health Care Provider
Tell your vaccination provider if the person getting the vaccine:
- Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of recombinant shingles vaccine, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies
- Is currently experiencing an episode of shingles
In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone shingles vaccination until a future visit.
People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting recombinant shingles vaccine.
Your health care provider can give you more information.
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
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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.
Who Should Not Get Shingrix
You should not get Shingrix if you:
- Have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or after a dose of Shingrix.
- Currently have shingles.
- Currently are pregnant. Women who are pregnant should wait to get Shingrix.
If you have a minor illness, such as a cold, you may get Shingrix. But if you have a moderate or severe illness, with or without fever, you should usually wait until you recover before getting the vaccine.
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