Get the Scoop on the New Shingrix Shingles Vaccine

Aging, Men's Health, Women's Health Steward Health Care

There’s a new vaccine to prevent shingles that have many people over the age of 50 taking notice. It’s called Shingrix and in 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made a formal recommendation for health care providers to use the vaccine. Shingrix is the first new shingles vaccine to be developed in more than 10 years, and the second to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Shingles is an infection that causes a painful blistering skin eruption that can affect people who have had the chicken pox. Anyone who has had shingles can attest that it’s not a pleasant experience, can last over a long period of time and hurts! But Shingrix can stop shingles in its tracks.

How does it work and who should receive it?

Shingrix is a two-dose vaccine that is recommended to be given to people starting at the age of 50. Previously, a vaccine called Zostavax was used to help prevent people from getting the illness. Shingles occurs when the chicken pox virus, varicella zoster, which is dormant in people who have had chickenpox, reawakens later in their life. The older people get, the higher their risk for developing shingles. Nationally, shingles affects approximately 1 million people, and about one in three adults will experience having shingles in their lifetime, according to the CDC.

The two doses of the Shingrix vaccine are administered two to six months apart.

Who shouldn’t receive the vaccine?

“As with any vaccine, it is always best to have a discussion with your primary care physician to make sure it is right for you,” says Winston Watkins, MD, a Steward Health Care and Steward Medical Group primary care physician. “Shingrix should not be administered to someone for the following reasons.”

  • They have had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or after a dose of Shingrix
  • Tested negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus
  • Currently, have shingles
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Receive specific antiviral drugs (acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir) 24 hours before vaccination

Are there any side effects?

Because Shingrix helps someone’s body create a strong defense against shingles, as a result, they are likely to have temporary side effects from getting the shots. Side effects may include:

  • A sore arm with mild or moderate pain
  • Redness and swelling at the location of where the shot was given
  • Feeling tired
  • Muscle pain
  • Flu-like symptoms

Symptoms typically go away on their own in approximately two to three days. If you experience side effects, it’s recommended to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

If you have further questions about the Shingrix vaccine, schedule an appointment to talk with your primary care physician (PCP). Need a PCP? Learn more about Steward Medical Group primary care physicians near you.

To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, visit Steward DoctorFinder™.

*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov