Side effects of shingles vaccine

Side effects of shingles vaccine

 Zoster vaccine contains live, attenuated (weakened) varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Varicella-zoster causes chickenpox and then becomes dormant in nerves. VZV reactivates and causes herpes zoster (shingles or zoster) later in life (usually 60 years of age or older) when immunity against VZV declines. Zoster vaccine stimulates the immune system to develop immunity against VZV.

Side effects of shingles vaccine

Like all vaccines, the shingles vaccine can cause side effects, but they're generally mild and don't last long.
Common side effects of the shingles vaccine, which occur in at least 1 in 10 people, are:
redness, pain, swelling, itching, warmth and bruising at the injection site
If any side effects carry on for longer than a few days, speak to your GP or practice nurse.

Allergic reaction to shingles vaccination

There is a very small chance of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to the shingles vaccine, as there is with other vaccines.
Anaphylaxis is very serious and potentially life-threatening, but it can be treated. All healthcare staff that deliver vaccinations are trained in this. With prompt treatment, people recover fully from anaphylaxis.
The risk of having a severe allergic reaction after vaccination has been estimated at around 1 in 900,000 (a little more than one in a million).

Can shingles be prevented with a vaccine?

In May 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first vaccine for adult shingles. The vaccine known as Zostavax is approved for use in adults ages 50 and over who have had chickenpox. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for people 60 years of age and over who have had chickenpox. It is a onetime injection (shot) that does not need to be repeated. The shingles vaccine contains a booster dose of the chickenpox vaccine usually given to children. Tests over an initial four-year period showed that the vaccine significantly reduced the incidence of shingles in these older adults. The single-dose vaccine was shown to be more than 60% effective in reducing shingles symptoms, and it reduced the incidence of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN, see above) by at least two-thirds. Studies are ongoing to evaluate the effectiveness of the vaccine over a longer term. Even if you already have had shingles, you can still have the vaccine to help prevent future outbreaks.

There are certain contraindications to receiving the shingles vaccine. People with weakened immune systems due to immune-suppressing medications, cancer treatment, HIV disease, or organ transplants should not receive the shingles vaccine because it contains live, weakened viral particles. There is not enough information available from researchers to decide at this point whether Zostavax may be beneficial in people younger than 60 years of age. Pregnant women should not receive the shingles vaccine.