The effects of the Shingrix vaccine last for at least four years in most people and may last even longer in some. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you do not need a booster dose after getting the two doses of Shingrix.
What is Shingrix?
Shingrix is a new vaccine that has been recently approved by the FDA that provides protection against shingles (herpes zoster or zoster), a painful rash that appears on one side of the body, head or face.
Causes of shingles
If you have had chickenpox in the past, you may get shingles later in life. Chickenpox and shingles are both caused by the same virus (varicella-zoster virus). Once a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in the body and can become active years later, causing shingles.
Complications of shingles
The Shingrix vaccine also provides protection against potential complications of shingles, which can include:
- Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN): PHN is the most common complication of shingles and affects the skin and nerve fibers, causing pain after the rash subsides.
- Eye complications: Shingles in and around the eye can cause eye infections that may result in:
- Pneumonia: If the virus affects the lungs, it can lead to pneumonia.
- Encephalitis: If the virus affects the brain, it can cause a severe, life-threatening inflammation called encephalitis, which may lead to:
How effective is the Shingrix vaccine?
Two doses of Shingrix are more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and PHN. Shingrix is around 85% effective in people over 70 years of age in the first four years after vaccination.
CDC suggests that healthy adults age 50 and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by two to six months.
How safe is the Shingrix vaccine?
As with most vaccines, Shingrix may have side effects, including:
- Soreness in the arm
- Stomach pain
- Muscle pain
Side effects are usually mild and may last for two to three days. No severe side effects for Shingrix have been reported so far.
Who should get the Shingrix vaccine?
You should get the Shingrix vaccine if you:
- Are healthy and 50 years of age or older
- Had shingles in the past
- Received the Zostavax vaccine previously
- Are not sure if you have had chickenpox
Who should avoid getting the Shingrix vaccine?
You should not get Shingrix if you:
- Have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the Shingrix vaccine
- Currently have shingles
- Currently are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Tested negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus (negative antibodies)
- Have a moderate or severe illness with a temperature of 101.3º F
- Have gotten Varivax (chickenpox vaccine) less than eight weeks ago
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shingles Vaccination. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/public/shingrix/index.html
Harvard Health Publishing. Should I Get the New Shingles Vaccine? June 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/should-i-get-the-new-shingles-vaccine