Shingles(also called herpes zoster, or just zoster) is a painful skin rash, often with blisters. Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox, the virus stays in your body and can cause shingles later in life.
You can't catch shingles from another person. However, a person who has never had chickenpox (or chickenpox vaccine) could get chickenpox from someone with shingles.
A shingles rash usually appears on one side of the face or body and heals within 2 to 4 weeks. Its main symptom is pain, which can be severe. Other symptoms can include fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach. Very rarely, a shingles infection can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis), or death.
For about 1 person in 5, severe pain can continue even long after the rash has cleared up. This long-lasting pain is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).
Shingles is far more common in people 50 years of age and older than in younger people, and the risk increases with age. It is also more common in people whose immune system is weakened because of a disease such as cancer, or by drugs such as steroids or chemotherapy.
At least 1 million people a year in the United States get shingles.
Recombinant shingles vaccine was approved by FDA in 2017 for the prevention of shingles. In clinical trials, it was more than 90% effective in preventing shingles. It can also reduce the likelihood of PHN.
Two doses, 2 to 6 months apart, are recommended foradults 50 and older.
This vaccine is also recommended for people who have already gotten the live shingles vaccine (Zostavax). There is no live virus in this vaccine.
Tell your vaccine provider if you:
With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of reactions.
After recombinant shingles vaccination, a person might experience:
In clinical trials, most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after vaccination, and some also had redness and swelling where they got the shot. Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. About 1 out of 6 people who got recombinant zoster vaccine experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.
You should still get the second dose of recombinant zoster vaccine even if you had one of these reactions after the first dose.
Other things that could happen after this vaccine:
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.
The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. For more information, visit: Web Site
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Recombinant Zoster Vaccine Information Statement. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2/12/2018.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Selected Revisions: April 15, 2018.