Shingles (herpes zoster) is a disease caused by a virus called varicella-zoster virus (VZV); this is the same virus that causes chickenpox . VZV occurs after the primary form of the virus (chickenpox) becomes inactive and then becomes reactive in the body like shingles.
The shingles vaccine, two shots given into the shoulder, is the only way to prevent shingles or complications from shingles. Research shows that the shingles vaccine provides 90% protection against shingles.
Although the shingles vaccine has been shown to be safe, there are some common side effects and contraindications to the shingles vaccine.
Who should and shouldn't get the shingles vaccine?
Who should get vaccinated?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that people who should get the shingles vaccine include:
- Healthy adults age 50 and older
- People who have not had shingles
- For those who are not sure they have had chickenpox. Research shows that more than 99% of Americans over 40 have chickenpox, including those with no recollection of having the disease.
- People who have had shingles (after the rash is completely gone). Research has shown that some people can get shingles two or even three times, and the risk of getting shingles again is about the same as the chances of getting it in the first place.
- Those who have received Zostavax (shingles vaccine that is no longer available in the United States since November 2020).
What to do if you were vaccinated with Zostavax
If you've been vaccinated with Zostavax, which is no longer available in the US, be sure to check with your doctor to find out when is the best time to receive the FDA-approved Shingrix vaccine.
Who should not get vaccinated?
According to the CDC, some people should not get the shingles vaccine, including those who:
- There were allergic reactions to the vaccine.
- A negative varicella-zoster virus (VZV) immunity test (this group should receive the varicella-zoster vaccine instead of the shingles vaccine)
- There are currently tiles
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- You have a severe to moderate illness considered acute, such as a respiratory infection.
- Have a temperature of 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Possible side effects.
Research has shown that the shingles vaccine is safe, but temporary side effects can occur after vaccination.
Common side effects of the shingles vaccine generally last no more than two to three days and include:
- Mild to moderate pain in the injection arm.
- Redness and swelling at the injection site.
- Muscle pains
- Fever and chills
- Abdominal pain
According to the CDC, about one in six people who received the shingles vaccine reported that due to side effects, they were unable to perform their normal activities for two to three days.
Side effects were more common in younger people and resolved on their own, without any medical intervention, in two to three days. The CDC reports that some people respond to one of two doses of the shingles vaccine, while others respond negatively to both doses.
Get the word of drug information
If you have side effects from the shingles vaccine, the CDC recommends reporting them to the Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). If you report your symptoms to your healthcare provider, your healthcare provider may send you a report of side effects.
You can request it yourself by calling 1-800-822-7967. If you have any questions about the shingles vaccine or are concerned about side effects, be sure to ask your doctor.