What does the zoster vaccine do?
The zoster vaccine, called Shingrix®, is used to prevent shingles in individuals that are 50 years of age or older, regardless of any previous history of chickenpox or shingles. It’s not used for the treatment of herpes or postherpetic neuralgia. About one-third of people who have previously had chickenpox will get shingles sometime in their life if they are not vaccinated. Shingles can cause a very painful rash along the nerves, primarily in the chest or trunk areas of the body. Shingrix is effective in preventing disease in over 90% of vaccine recipients.
How many doses will I need?
Shingrix is provided in two doses, two to six months apart. You can still receive the shingles vaccine if you’ve already had shingles — it will help prevent future recurrences.
Who is the vaccine recommended for?
If you’re over the age of 50, you should get Shingrix — however, there is no maximum age for getting the shingles vaccine.
Who should not take the vaccine?
- People who have had a life-threatening or severe allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of the vaccine
- People with weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS or another disease such as cancer
- People receiving treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids or cancer treatment (radiation or chemotherapy)
- People with cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic systems, such as leukemia or lymphoma
- Women who are or might be pregnant
- Anyone with a moderate or severe acute illness should wait until they recover fully to get the vaccine
Are there any side effects or risks associated with Shingrix?
The most common adverse effects are headaches and injection site itching, swelling, pain, warmth, bleeding, and bruising. Some individuals may experience shingles or chickenpox-like rashes within 42 days after receiving the zoster vaccine. Transmission of the virus from vaccinated individuals to other individuals occurs rarely.