The Shingles Vaccine

Effectiveness Documented by Major Studies
The vaccine to prevent shingles is approved for people age 50 and older by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It was first approved in May, 2006 for age 60 and older, and a more recent study supported expansion of the FDA approval to the over 50 age group.

The effectiveness of the Zostavax vaccine by Merck has been documented in three major studies including pre-licensure studies of both the over 60 and 50-59 age groups, and a post licensure study of people over 60 enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan. These three studies combining 136,000 people documented effectiveness rates ranging from 51% to 70%. See Effectiveness and Duration.

Vaccination Has Benefits Even if You Do Get Shingles
For people vaccinated for shingles, who still developed the disease, the frequency of post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) was reduced, and the duration of pain was shorter.

The shingles vaccine has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC's) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American College of Physicians.

Some People Should Not Be Vaccinated
Some people should not be vaccinated including:

  • People who are allergic to the antibiotic neomycin or any component of the vaccine (including gelatin) should not receive this vaccine.
  • Individuals who have a weakened immune system caused by treatments that they are taking such as radiation or corticosteroids, or due to conditions such as HIV/AIDS, cancer of the lymph, bone, or blood.
  • Pregnant women should not receive this vaccine.

Side Effects Are Generally Mild
The most commonly reported side effects in vaccine recipients are mild, including redness, pain and tenderness, swelling and itchiness at the injection site, and headaches. For more information about the shingles vaccine visit

Shingles Prevention Advocate does not practice medicine, and no information presented on this website is medical advice or intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician.

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"Nothing in my 78 years have I had as bad as the shingles."

Retirement Living Television - HealthLine - Edith Jackson