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Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital


The New Shingles Vaccine

image; Neurological hammer, brain shape, syringe with needle and vials of medicines are next to inscription Diagnosis Shingles. Diagnostics, treatment and prevention disease of nervous system Shingles

How does the new vaccine differ from the old vaccine, and why you need it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

What is Shingles?
Herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles, is a painful rash with blisters caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, which is the virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles is more common in adults 50 years and older. It appears on one side of the face or body with itching, burning, pain and/or tingling. The virus also can cause a fever or headache. The blisters will usually scab over in 7-10 days. After the rash goes away, about 1 out of 10 people will have pain that can last for months or even years, referred to as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).

There are about one million cases of shingles each year in the United States. The risk of getting shingles can be lowered by getting a vaccine. The most common vaccine is called Zostavax. However, a new, more effective shingles vaccine, called Shingrix, was developed in 2017. The newer Shingrix vaccine is now the recommended vaccine to prevent shingles.

Zostavax vs. Shingrix


Zostavax (ZVL)

Shingrix (RZV)

Recommended Age to Receive Vaccine

60 years and older

50 years and older



Recombinant, inactive


1 dose

2 doses, 2-6 months apart

Effectiveness to Prevent Shingles








70 and older



Effectiveness to Prevent Postherpetic Neuralgia



50 years and older

65.7% (60-69 years old)


70 and older



As seen in the table above, the Shingrix vaccine prevents shingles and postherpetic neuralgia more effectively than Zostavax. Shingrix also continues to work better, about 97.6 percent or higher for adults 70 years or older, after the first year of getting the vaccine.

Side Effects

Some side effects are like other vaccines you may receive, and are due to the immune system’s response to the vaccine. Most common reactions occur at the injection site. This can include pain, redness and swelling where you received the injection. Some other side effects you may experience include sore and achy muscles (known as myalgia), headache, fatigue, shivering, fever or gastrointestinal symptoms. The most common side effects with Shingrix vaccine include pain, myalgia and fatigue.

Unexpected shortage.

Currently the vaccine is on intermittent backorder due to the unexpected high demand for the vaccine. This means there are ordering limits and shipping delays, which may last through the end of the year. It still is recommended that you discuss the Shingrix vaccine with your doctor to see if it is recommended for you.


Dooling, K., Guo, A., Patel, M., Lee, G., Moore, K., Belongia, E. and Harpaz, R. (2018). Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2018]. (2018). Herpes Zoster Vaccine Guidance | For Providers | CDC. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2018]. (2018). Patient education: Shingles (The Basics). [online] Available at:

[Accessed 23 Jul. 2018].


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