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Shingles (Herpes-Zoster) Immunization

Zoster Virus (Shingles) Vaccine - Shingrix®


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Immunization protects you from disease.
​​Get protected, get immunized.

  • Vaccines make your immune system stronger by building antibodies, which help prevent diseases.
  • Immunization is safe. It is much safer to get immunized than to get this disease.​

What is the Shingrix vaccine and how many doses of the vaccine do you need?

Shingrix is a non-live vaccine that helps protect you from getting shingles. It is given in 2 doses. The second dose is given 2 to 6 months after the first dose. You need a second dose to make sure you have long-lasting protection against shingles.

Shingrix was proven to be more than 90% effective in preventing shingles in people over the age of 50 years. It is known to provide good protection for 4 years. Researchers are studying how well Shingrix protects against shingles after 4 years but the results are not yet known.

Is the Shingrix vaccine safe?​

Yes, the Shingrix vaccine is safe. You cannot get shingles from the vaccine. Vaccines are tested and licensed in Canada before they are given to the public. Every vaccine is tested for safety. Information about side effects is always being collected to maintain safety.

Who should get the Shingrix vaccine?

Shingrix vaccine is used to prevent shingles in adults 50 years of age or older. This vaccine does not prevent chicken pox and it cannot be used to treat shingles or shingles nerve pain (post-herpetic neuralgia).

You can get the Shingrix vaccine even if you

  • had shingles
  • had the Zostavax vaccine in the past
  • are not sure if you had chickenpox

You should wait one year from the Zostavax vaccine or an episode of shingles before getting the Shingrix vaccine.

Who should not have the Shingrix vaccine?

You may not be able to have the vaccine if you:

  • have an allergy to parts of the vaccine
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • currently have shingles

Always tell your healthcare provider if you have an allergy. Before getting the vaccine tell your healthcare provider about any health issues you have, all the medicines you take, and if you have recently had any other vaccine.

Are there side effects of the Shingrix vaccine?

Side effects to the vaccine are usually mild to moderate and go away in a few days. They may include:

  • redness, pain, swelling, itching where the needle was given
  • fever, chills, headache, muscle aches
  • feeling tired or unwell​
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain

It is important to stay at the clinic for 15 minutes after immunization because people can have a rare but serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

Unusual reactions can happen after being immunized. Call Health Link at 811 to report any unusual reactions.

How can I manage side effects?

  • If you have discomfort or swelling, apply a cool, wet cloth over the area where the needle was given.
  • Move the limb where the needle was given.
  • Ask a pharmacist or doctor if it’s safe for you to take medicine for a fever or pain. Some people with health problems such as a weak immune system must call their doctor if they get a fever. If you have been told to do this, call your doctor even if you think the fever was due to immunization.

Where can I get the Shingrix vaccine?

In Alberta, Shingrix is not free. You can buy it from Alberta Health Services Contracted Immunization Services or you can talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

If you are living outside of Edmonton or Calgary, contact your local public health office to ask how to get vaccine and where you can buy it.

For More Information

Disease Quick Facts: Shingles

What is it?

  • Shingles is a painful, blistering rash caused by the same virus as chickenpox.
  • If you had chickenpox in the past, the virus stays in the nerve cells in your body. The virus can stay there for many years and not cause a problem. But sometimes, especially as you get older, it can become active again and cause shingles.
  • Most people develop shingles in one part of the body. It can last for several weeks.
  • The nerve pain from shingles (called post-herpetic neuralgia) can be severe and last for months or years. The pain can prevent you from being able to do daily activities such as walking, sleeping, or visiting with friends and family.
  • People with shingles may develop other problems including scarring in the area of the rash, skin infections, weakness, loss of hearing or vision, or having trouble moving your muscles (called paralysis).
  • Some people with shingles may need to be in the hospital if they are very unwell. In rare cases, shingles can cause death.

Who is at risk for shingles?

You are at risk for shingles if you had chickenpox disease in the past. It is also possible to get shingles after chickenpox vaccine, but the risk is very low. The risk is greater as you get older especially if you are over 50 years of age. For most people, the risk of getting shingles is as hi​gh as 30%. People over the age of 85 years have almost a 50% risk of getting shingles.

Current as of: October 23, 2018

Author: Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services