Should I get the shingles vaccine? If I've already had shingles, should I get the vaccine so that I don't get shingles again?
Answer From Pritish K. Tosh, M.D.
People who can get the Shingrix vaccine in the U.S. should get it. That includes people who have had shingles.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that adults age 50 and older should get the Shingrix vaccine to prevent shingles and complications from the. condition This is true for people who have had shingles and those who have not. It's also true for adults 19 and older who have weakened immune systems due to a condition or medicine.
You may get the Shingrix vaccine even if you've already had shingles. Also, think about getting the Shingrix vaccine if you've had the Zostavax vaccine in the past. And think about getting the vaccine if you don't know whether you've had chickenpox.
Shingrix is not a live virus vaccine. It's made of part of the virus. It's given in two doses. The second one is given 2 to 6 months after the first.
The most common side effects of a shingles vaccine are headaches and pain, soreness, swelling and itching where the shot was given. On white skin, the area might look red. On Black or brown skin the redness might be harder to see.
The shingles vaccine Zostavax is no longer sold in the U.S. It is sold in other countries. If you had a Zostavax vaccine, you should still get Shingrix.
Some people get shingles even with the vaccine. But the vaccine may reduce how bad shingles is and how long it lasts.
The vaccine also can lower the risk of a shingles complication that causes shingles pain to go on long after the blisters have cleared. This is called postherpetic neuralgia. Shingrix has been shown to protect against shingles for at least seven years.
Talk to your healthcare professional about whether you should get the vaccine if you:
- Have ever had an allergic reaction to any part of the shingles vaccine.
- Are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
Pritish K. Tosh, M.D.
Jan. 06, 2024
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See more Expert Answers
- Shingles vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/public/shingrix/. Accessed Sept. 14, 2023.
- Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines. MMWR. 2018; doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6703a5external icon.
- AskMayoExpert. Herpes zoster (shingles). Mayo Clinic; 2023.
- Shingrix. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/vaccines/shingrix. Accessed Sept. 14, 2023.
- Albrecht MA, et al. Vaccination for the prevention of shingles (herpes zoster). https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 14, 2023.
- Shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/hcp/clinical-overview.html. Accessed Sept. 14, 2023.