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Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine

Drug Class: Commonly Known As: Category:
Herpes zoster, Shingrix, Zostavax

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine - What is it for

Shingles vaccines help prevent shingles caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV). VZV is the same virus that causes chickenpox, which stays dormant in your body and can cause shingles later in life. Though shingles cannot spread directly from one person to another, the VZV can spread and cause chickenpox in those who never had chickenpox or had never received the chickenpox vaccine .Transmission of the VZV is through direct contact with fluid from the shingles rash blisters.People with shingles cannot spread the VZV before their rash blisters appear or after the rash has crusted.

The first symptom of shingles is usually pain, which can be intense with even a slightest touch. Other symptoms of shingles include rash, fluid filled blisters, fever, headache, chills, or stomach upset.

A common complication of shingles, especially in older adults is a nerve pain, called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which can be severe and long-lasting, even after the rash has cleared. Other rare complications include pneumonia, brain inflammation (encephalitis), hearing loss or blindness.

What Are the Types of Shingles Vaccine Available?
There are 2 types of vaccines available:
  1. Recombinant Shingles Vaccine
  2. Live Shingles Vaccine

The recombinant shingles vaccine does not contain the live VZV, and is given by injection into a muscle. The live shingles vaccine contains the weakened VZV and is given by injection just underneath the skin.

Who Should Receive the Shingles Vaccine?
It is recommended in older adults, such as those 50 years of age or older who would benefit from immunity to shingles. Check with your doctor for more information.

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine - Side Effects, Precautions, and Contraindications

What side effects can Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine cause?

Common side effects include:

  • Some people may feel faint after the vaccination
    • Sit for 15 minutes to avoid fainting
  • Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
    • You may place a cold compress over the affected area for relief
    • You may take paracetamol for pain relief
  • Headache, muscle aches, fatigue
    • These side effects usually go away on its own
    • You may take paracetamol to treat the headache or muscle aches

Please see a doctor if these side effects do not get better or become worse.

Rare but serious side effects: 
The symptoms of a drug allergy include one or more of the following:

  • Swollen face/eyes/lips/tongue
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Itchy skin rashes over your whole body

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should inform your healthcare professional immediately.

Before taking Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine, what precautions must I follow?

Inform your healthcare professional if:
  • You are allergic to this vaccine or any of the other ingredients of this vaccine including neomycin antibiotic
  • You are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding
  • You are taking any other medications
  • You had a serious adverse reaction (e.g.anaphylaxis-a severe allergic reaction) to the previous dose of the vaccination
  • You are currently not feeling well and having a fever
  • For Recombinant Shingles Vaccine
    • You have a history of bleeding disorders
  • For Live Shingles Vaccine
    • You have a weak immune system due to an illness such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection or cancer
    • You are currently on medications which weakens your immune system (e.g. high dose steroids)

What food or medicine must I avoid when I take Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine?

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine - Dosage and How to Use

How should Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine be used?

How Is the Shingles Vaccine Given?
The recombinant shingles vaccine is given by injection into a muscle, as a series of two doses. The live shingles vaccine is given by injection just underneath the skin, as a single dose.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

What should I do if I overdose?

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine - Handling

How should I handle Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine safely?

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine - Storage

How should I store Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine?

Keep away from children;#Keep in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight;#

How should I dispose of Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine safely?

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine - Additional Information

  • Updated on Thursday, September 30, 2021
  • Article contributed by PSS National Medication Information Workgroup PSS National Medication Information Workgroup

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