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Shingles Vaccine

Shingles Vaccine

Everything you need to know
about the Shingles Vaccine

For those in their 70s, the NHS offers a vaccine to prevent shingles, a painful skin illness.

The shingles vaccination is administered as a shot in the upper arm. Unlike the flu vaccine, this immunisation only needs to be given once and can be given at any time of the year.

Most people will only require one dose, however, certain people who are unable to receive the regular immunisation due to medical reasons will require two doses.

The shingles vaccine is thought to lower your chances of developing shingles. If you do develop the condition, your symptoms will likely be less and your illness will be shorter.

Shingles can be excruciatingly painful and inconvenient. After the initial rash has healed, some patients are left with agony that lasts for years. Shingles can be fatal in about 1 in 1,000 people over the age of 70.

If you’ve already experienced shingles, the shingles vaccination isn’t necessary. In people who have already had shingles, the shingles vaccination is quite effective, and it will improve your protection against future shingles infections. After you’ve recovered from shingles, your doctor will advise you how long you should wait before getting the shingles vaccination. This might take up to a year.

Who can have the shingles vaccination?

When you’re 70 to 79 years old, you’re eligible for the shingles vaccine.

You can get the shingles vaccine at any time of year if you’re eligible.

Because the shingles vaccination appears to be less successful in people over the age of 80, it is not available on the NHS.

How do I get the shingles vaccine?

When you become eligible for shingles vaccination, a GP or practice nurse will give it to you when you go to the doctor for a routine checkup.

If you’re concerned that you could miss out on the shingles vaccine, call your doctor’s office to schedule an appointment.

What is the brand name of the shingles vaccine?

In the United Kingdom, there are two shingles vaccines available:

  • Zostavax. A live vaccine that is given in a single dose. Zostavax was recently removed from use in the U.S.
  • Shingrix. A non-live vaccination that is administered in two doses, two months apart.

The Zostavax vaccine will be available to the majority of individuals. If Zostavax is not suited for you, such as if you have an immune system issue, the Shingrix vaccine is recommended.
In the patient information booklets, you can learn more about the shingles vaccines:

Leaflet for Zostavax from the Electronic Medicines Compendium

Shingrix brochure from the Electronic Medicines Compendium

Shingles vaccine side effects

The shingles vaccines (Zostavax and Shingrix), like all vaccines, can produce adverse effects, but they’re usually minor and don’t last long.

The following are common adverse effects that affect at least one out of every ten people:

  • Headache
  • At the injection site, you may experience redness, discomfort, swelling, itching, and warmth, as well as weariness.
  • Fatigue

Speak to your GP or practice nurse if any side effects last more than a few days.
If you get a rash after getting the shingles vaccine, tell your doctor.

Catching chickenpox from the shingles vaccine

Following the shingles vaccine, a person has developed chickenpox on rare occasions (fewer than 1 in 10,000 individuals).

Allergic reaction to shingles vaccination

The shingles vaccination, like other vaccines, has a tiny potential of causing a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that can be managed. This is taught to all healthcare workers who provide immunizations. People with anaphylaxis can fully recover with prompt care.

Monitoring the safety and side effects of the shingles vaccine

You can also use the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s Yellow Card Scheme to report any side effects you suspect are related to the Shingles vaccine.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is in charge of it (MHRA). The MHRA examines yellow card reports on a regular basis. It will conduct an inquiry and, if required, take appropriate action if it suspects a possible problem.

Minor responses such as rashes, fever, vomiting, and redness and swelling where the injection was given have been recorded through the Yellow Card Scheme.

Pharmaceutical companies are also required by law to report serious and suspected adverse occurrences to the MHRA.

FAQs

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the shingles vaccine.

What is shingles?

Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, is a painful skin rash produced by the chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus).

To learn more about shingles, go here.

How do you catch shingles?

Shingles are caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus, which is already present in your body.

The varicella-zoster virus remains dormant in your nerve cells after you’ve healed from chickenpox and can reactivate later if your immune system is impaired.

Shingles can affect anyone who has had chickenpox.

How common is shingles?

Around one out of every five persons who have had chickenpox (typically as a child) will get shingles. This means that shingles will affect tens of thousands of people in England and Wales each year.

How is the shingles vaccine given?

As an injection is given in the upper arm.

How do I get the shingles vaccination?

When you become eligible for the shingles vaccine, a GP or practice nurse will give it to you when you go to the doctor for a routine checkup.

A shingles vaccination can be given at the same time as most other immunizations. However, allow 7 days between the shingles vaccine and a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine so that you can identify which vaccine caused any negative effects.

If you’re concerned that you could miss out on the shingles vaccine, call your doctor’s office to schedule an appointment.

Is it necessary to get the shingles vaccine every year?

No, you won’t require a booster.

Will the shingles vaccination have any negative effects?

There are two types of shingles vaccines: Zostavax (a live vaccine) and Shingrix (a non-live vaccine) (a non-live vaccine).

Both vaccines can cause redness and soreness at the injection site, as well as headaches and exhaustion, although these side effects should only last a few days. If you suffer side effects that continue more than a few days or develop a rash after getting the shingles vaccine, see your doctor.

Learn more about the negative effects of the shingles vaccine.

What about people who are not 70 yet? Will they get the shingles vaccine?

The shingles vaccine is only available on the NHS to people aged 70 to 79 years old.

Why can I not have the shingles vaccination if I’m over 80?

According to the NHS those above the age of 80, immunisation is less effective.

Who should not have the shingles vaccine?

If you’ve had a strong allergic reaction (including anaphylactic reaction) to a previous dosage of the shingles vaccination, any of the vaccine’s ingredients, or a previous dose of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, you shouldn’t have the shingles vaccine.

A GP or practice nurse will determine whether vaccines are appropriate for you if you have a weaker immune system. Before getting the immunisation, talk to your doctor or the practice nurse about any health issues you have.

People who have a weakened immune system as a result of a condition, therapy, or medicine should avoid taking Zostavax.

Will the shingles vaccine stop me from getting shingles?

It won’t prevent you from getting shingles, but it will lessen your chances.

If you do develop shingles, the vaccine will likely make your symptoms less severe and your sickness last less time. You’ll also have a lower risk of developing shingles complications like post-herpetic neuralgia.

Do I need the shingles vaccine if I’ve never had chickenpox?

Yes. It’s likely that you’ve had chickenpox before without realising it. Some people get chickenpox but don’t show any of the traditional chickenpox signs like a rash.

Do I need the shingles vaccine if I’ve never had chickenpox?

When you become eligible for the shingles vaccine, a GP or practice nurse will give it to you when you go to the doctor for a routine checkup.

A shingles vaccination can be given at the same time as most other immunizations. However, allow 7 days between the shingles vaccine and a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine so that you can identify which vaccine caused any negative effects.

If you’re concerned that you could miss out on the shingles vaccine, call your doctor’s office to schedule an appointment.

Can I get the shingles vaccine privately?

If I’ve already had shingles, should I get the shingles vaccine?

The shingles vaccine is available privately, but it’s expensive.

Yes. In those who have already had shingles, the shingles vaccination works very well to build your protection against future shingles infections.

After you’ve recovered from shingles, your doctor will advise you how long you should wait before getting the shingles vaccination. This might take up to a year.