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The Shingrix shot, also known as the shingles vaccine, is a two-dose series vaccine recommended for adults over the age of 50. It protects against the shingles virus and postherpetic neuralgia. This vaccine is also recommended for adults over 19 with a compromised immune system. The Shingrix vaccine does have a few unpleasant side effects you should be prepared for.
Shingle is a virus that is common among the older adult population. It's a reactivation of the chickenpox virus and is only seen in those who have previously had the illness.
The virus is typically not dangerous, but it can be extremely uncomfortable. It causes a painful rash that can still hurt even after it disappears. The rash will typically appear on the torso, but it can appear on other parts of the body.
There are only a few notable symptoms of shingles, and they aren't severe in most cases. A blistering rash is the most notable symptom. Symptoms include:
Blisters filled with fluid
A burning feeling
Tingling, itching, or numb skin
More severe symptoms include facial paralysis, blisters near the eyes, hearing loss, or inflammation in the brain. Immediately talk to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms or intense pain.
Only those who have had chickenpox can get shingles. It typically appears in those over the age of 50. People with a compromised immune system are also at a higher risk for the shingles virus, such as those with an autoimmune disorder, HIV/AIDS, or cancer.
Most people can get the Shingrix vaccine, but there are a few cases in which the vaccine should be avoided.
These people should avoid the vaccine:
Those who abuse drugs or prescription medication
People with a severe acute infection
Those who are allergic to the vaccine
Shingles are not contagious, but a person can catch chickenpox from someone with active shingles when the rash is in the blister phase. The blisters contain the live chickenpox virus, but you won't catch shingles if you've never had chickenpox. If you've had chickenpox before, a person with shingles won't transmit the illness to you.
The Shingrix vaccine has a few side effects you should be aware of before receiving it. It also comes in two doses, typically two to six months apart. Only those who have previously had chickenpox should consider getting the vaccine.
The Shingrix vaccine is a two-part vaccine that protects against the shingles virus. It is highly effective, and most people who receive the vaccine will not contract shingles in their lifetime. The vaccine is only recommended for those who have previously had chickenpox, but anyone can get the vaccine.
The Shingrix vaccine has quite a few side effects to watch out for. Most side effects are not severe, but you should talk to your doctor if you're in a lot of pain. Side effects include:
Pain and swelling at the injection site
Some side effects are more serious than others. Talk to a doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
Swelling of the face/throat
Tachycardia (fast heart rate)
People can experience flu-like symptoms after receiving either dose of the Shingrix vaccine. These symptoms are usually not severe and typically last between one to three days.
You won't be able to get rid of the side effects completely, but some of them are easy to manage. Taking over-the-counter pain medicine such as Tylenol can help ease the pain from the shot. The side effects should go away after a few days but talk to your doctor if you're experiencing severe symptoms.
You should seek medical help if you experience any rare or severe side effects of the Shingrix vaccine. It is not normal to experience extreme pain, hives, swelling, or any other severe side effects of the vaccine.
The best time to get the second Shingrix shot is about two to six months after you get the first dose. If you have a compromised immune system, you can get it one to two months after receiving the first dose of the vaccine.
Side effects typically occur a few hours after receiving the second shot. These symptoms typically last one to three days. If symptoms last longer than one week, talk to your doctor.
People tend to experience side effects after the second dose of the vaccine and not the first. While people can experience symptoms after the first dose, it's not common. The second vaccine is considered the worst of the two.
The vaccine is effective in 90% of people who receive it. There is a very low possibility that someone who has received the vaccine will develop shingles afterward.
The Shingrix vaccine may need to be repeated once every five to seven years, but the immunity can last longer in some people. It is 90% effective for the first five years, and a booster shot is typically not needed. After five years, you may want to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about receiving another dose of the vaccine.
The Shingrix vaccine is typically covered in full by most insurance carriers and those covered under the Affordable Healthcare Act, even if a deductible hasn't been met. You may need to pay a copay, but this typically doesn't cost very much after insurance. If you don't have insurance, the Shingrix vaccine may cost upwards of $190.
Shingrix is 68% to 90% effective in those with a compromised immune system, though it depends on the condition.
Over 99% of Americans born before 1980 have had chickenpox in their lifetime.
Shingrix is 97% effective in adults between the ages of 50–69 and 91% effective in adults over 70.
When receiving the Shingrix vaccine, a person should expect to start experiencing symptoms immediately afterward. Most people experience side effects after the second dose as opposed to the first one, but side effects may appear following either dose. A person should seek medical assistance if symptoms become severe.
Yes, the Shingrix vaccine can cause insomnia, but it won't last long. Insomnia caused by the vaccine will typically go away within a few days. If it lasts longer than a week, consult your doctor. Over-the-counter sleep medication may relieve this side effect.
There is a possibility that Shingrix will cause diarrhea in some people, though this side effect is uncommon. As with most other side effects of the vaccine, diarrhea should resolve itself within a few days. You can try taking over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication or something similar to Pepto Bismol to relieve symptoms.
The shingles vaccine may cause tachycardia, also known as increased heart rate, in some people. If this lasts longer than a few days or causes chest pain, consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
The shingles vaccine, in rare cases, can affect your eyesight. A small number of people have experienced inflammation of the clear layer on the front of the eye (keratitis), which can cause permanent damage if left untreated. This side effect of the vaccine is extremely rare, but it is important to be aware of it.
The Shingrix vaccine is offered at most pharmacies and can be administered by your primary care provider. The pharmacy or doctor's office you receive the vaccine from can affect the price.
Many people may have had it in early childhood or adolescence and forgotten about the illness. If you don't remember having chickenpox, you can take a blood test to find out.
Shingles vaccination | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Shingles | National Institute on Aging
What you can expect after getting shingrix vaccine | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Frequently asked questions about shingrix | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention