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Getting Vaccinated for Shingles

writtenByWritten by: Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

Read more posts by this author.
reviewBy Reviewed by: Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Reviewer

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.

March 21, 2021 Read Time - 6 minutes

All You Need to Know About the Shingles Vaccine

Shingles (Varicella-Zoster virus) is a serious illness that warrants a vaccine in order to prevent shingles. The primary infection with Varicella-zoster virus is chickenpox, while the reactivation of the same virus dormant in your body is known as shingles. Therefore, you must have been infected with chickenpox before developing shingles.

Shingles is characterized by vesicular lesions in different stages of development and are usually located on the face or trunk or one area on the extremities. Shingles can cause permanent fatal complications if left untreated. Luckily, there are two shingles vaccines available. Speak to your physician today to schedule your vaccination. 

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Who Should Get the Shingles Vaccine?

People 50 years and older, even with a history of shingles, should receive the vaccine. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted that the new shingles vaccine is the preferred vaccine for healthy adults 50 years or older, compared to the old vaccine, which is recommended for adults 60 years and older.

There are two types of zoster vaccines:

  • A recombinant glycoprotein E vaccine (Shingrix)
  • A live attenuated vaccine (Zostavax)

As of November 2020, Zostavax is no longer sold in the United States, but continues to be offered in other countries. If you had Zostavax in the past, you should still get Shingrix. Talk to your provider to determine the best time to get Shingrix.

What Is The Recommended Shingles Vaccine Age?

Shingrix is FDA approved for the prevention of shingles in adults 50 years and older. Shingrix is the first FDA-approved shingles vaccine in over 10 years. It is a 2-dose series proven to be up to 90%-97% effective in preventing shingles. 

Shingrix has been evaluated as being 96-97% effective in reducing the rate of shingles infection for people 50-70 years and is 97% effective in people 70 years or older. Shingrix is not used to prevent chickenpox.

What Are Shingles Vaccine Side Effects?

Shingrix can cause reactions at the injection site and systemically. The most common side effect after the Shingrix injection is pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. These reactions typically do not interfere with regular daily activities.

Systemic reactions are reactions inside the body. The most common reactions to Shingrix include myalgia, fatigue, headache, shivering, fever, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

The most common side effects after getting the Shingrix vaccine include:

  • Pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site
  • Muscle pain
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Shivering
  • Fever
  • Upset stomach

Side effects of Shingrix are temporary and usually last 2 to 3 days.

Is There A Reaction To The Shingles Vaccine?

Shingrix can cause reactions and should be avoided if you have a known allergy to the components of the vaccine or if you have a response to the first dose. 

Signs of a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine include:

  • Hives
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Respiratory distress
  • Low blood pressure
  • Bluish skin
  • Allergic shock

Shingrix has not been studied in pregnant or nursing women. Your healthcare provider can decide if Shingrix is right for you.

How Long Does the Shingles Vaccine Last?

According to the CDC, Shingrix protects you for at least 4 years after you get vaccinated. Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles, and protection stays above 85% for at least 4 years after your second dose. You can ask your provider when you should get the next dose of Shingrix after your first vaccination round. There may be a new shingles vaccine available in 4 years, so it is essential to ask your healthcare provider for guidance.

How Often Do You Need to Get the Shingles Vaccine?

Shingrix requires two doses, with the second dose given 2 to 6 months after the first. Shingrix is administered intramuscularly. Vaccination is indicated for people 50 years of age or older, although immunocompromised patients under 50 may receive the vaccine due to increased risk. However, there is little data on efficacy in this group. 

How Much Does The Shingles Vaccine Cost?

Shingrix was approved for use in the United States in October 2017 and costs $194.41 outright. This price is provided as a reference point only, and pricing can vary based on coverage factors. There are several ways to pay for the shingles vaccine. 

Medicare, Medicaid, private health insurance, and vaccine assistance programs are available to assist with cost. Some pharmaceutical companies provide vaccines to eligible adults who cannot afford them. The manufacturer for Shingrix is GlaxoSmithKline, and their website provides more information on discounts. 

How Long After Shingles Vaccine Are You Contagious?

Shingrix is not a live virus vaccine; therefore, you are not contagious. You will not develop shingles from getting the Shingrix vaccine. Vaccines train your immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when you are exposed to the disease naturally. 

However, vaccines contain killed or weakened forms of viruses, so they do not cause the disease or put you at risk of its complications. 

After the second dose of Shingrix, immune response is effective after 4 weeks. This means you have developed immunity from the vaccine after 4 weeks from the second dose. It is important to receive both doses of Shingrix because efficacy is unknown from just one dose. 

Can You Get Shingles After Being Vaccinated?

It is unlikely that you will get shingles after being vaccinated. Shingrix is 90-97% effective against shingles. If you have had shingles, it is advised to wait approximately one year before receiving the vaccination. However, the CDC recommends getting the vaccine once the rash has gone away completely. 

Natural immunity to shingles, that is, if you contracted shingles, is found to boost immunity for several years as well.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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Should I Get the New Shingles Vaccine If I Had the Old One?

Healthy adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months, even if you received the old vaccine. Zostavax was the shingles vaccine up until 2017 (GSK, 2018). Recently, Zostavax is no longer available in the United States, but it is advised to get the new vaccine even if you received the old one. This will only improve your immunity against shingles. 

You should still get Shingrix even if you received the old shingles vaccine, Zostavax. There is no maximum age to get Shingrix, and you may get Shingrix whether or not you remember having had chickenpox in the past. Schedule an appointment with your physician to see if Shingrix is right for you. 


Read More About Shingles Vaccinations and Treatment


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dooling KL, Guo A, Patel M, et al. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:103–108. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6703a5.htm 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shingles Vaccination. Accessed on March 14, 2021 at
https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/public/shingrix/

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Shingrix Vaccine. Accessed on March 14, 2021 at
https://www.fda.gov/media/108597/download

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Zostavax Vaccine. Accessed on March 14, 2021 at
https://www.fda.gov/media/82524/download

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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