Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine
What is shingles?
Shingles (herpes zoster) is a painful skin rash caused by Varicella Zoster, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you've had chickenpox, the virus remains in your body in a dormant or inactive stage. If the virus becomes active again you may get shingles. Age, increased stress, and problems with the immune system may increase your chances of getting shingles.
You cannot catch shingles from another person with shingles; however a person who has never had chicken pox or been vaccinated for chicken pox could get chicken pox from someone with shingles.
Shingles is far more common in people 50 years of age and older. At least 1 million people a year in the United States get shingles. 1 in 3 adults will develop shingles in their lifetime.
What is the shingles vaccine?
The shingles vaccine has been proven as the most effective method to reduce the risk of developing shingles. It can also reduce complications such as long-term pain caused by shingles. There are currently two vaccines available, Shingrix® and Zostavax®.
Who should receive a shingles vaccine?
The CDC recommends all healthy adults 50 years of age and older receive 2 doses of Shingrix® (recombinant zoster vaccine or RZV) 2-6 months apart regardless of a past episode of herpes zoster or receipt of Zostavax® (zoster vaccine live or ZVL).
Adults who previously received Zostavax® should get Shingrix®. They should wait at least 2 months after receiving Zostavax® to receive Shingrix®.
The CDC also continues to recommend adults aged 60 years or older, receive either available vaccine. However, Shingrix® is preferred the preferred choice of zoster vaccine.
Who should not get the shingles vaccine?
You should not get the shingles vaccine if you:
- Are allergic to the vaccine or any of its ingredients
- Have a weakened immune system (cancer, certain immune disorders)
- Have undergone cancer treatment (radiation or chemotherapy)
- Take high doses of steroids by injection or by mouth
- Are pregnant or plan to get pregnant
- Have an active episode of shingles (wait until illness is over and symptoms have resolved).
What are the general vaccine side effects? What is to be expected?
- Pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- Muscle aches, tiredness, fever, shivering, headache, and/or stomach discomfort have also been reported after receiving Shingrix®
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
Side effects typically resolve in 3 to 7 days. Over-the-counter pain relievers may help ease certain vaccine related symptoms.
How do I know if I am allergic to a shingles vaccine?
Severe allergic reactions are uncommon. Signs and symptoms may occur a few minutes to a few hours after vaccination and include:
- Difficulty breathing or Wheezing
- Pale skin
- Fast heartbeat
- Swelling of the face or throat
It is extremely rare for this vaccine to cause serious harm or death. If the person getting the vaccine has a serious reaction, call the doctor or seek immediate medical attention.
The shingles vaccine is available at Walgreens Pharmacy. Ages vary by state.*
If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.
Call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 800-232-4636 or visit the CDC website, at cdc.gov/vaccines, for more vaccine information.
Shingrix package insert. Rixenart, Belgium. GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals. October 2017.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shingles (herpes zoster). Vaccination. Updated October 27, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/vaccination.html. Accessed March 12, 2018.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shingles (herpes zoster). Shingrix Recommendations. Updated February 7, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/hcp/shingrix/recommendations.html. Accessed March 12, 2018.
This publication should be used for general educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Although it is intended to be accurate, neither Walgreen Co., its subsidiaries or affiliates, nor any other party assumes liability for loss or damage due to reliance on this publication.
*Vaccines subject to availability. State-, age- and health-related restrictions may apply.