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Shingles Disease & Vaccine Information
Shingles: The Disease
Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, is an inflammation of nerves and the surrounding area of skin caused by Varicella Zoster (chickenpox) virus infection. Shingles usually occurs when the dormant Varicella Zoster virus is reactivated in an adult, who has recovered from chickenpox as a child. Shingles most commonly occurs in individuals over 50 years of age. Today, after chickenpox vaccine has been widely used by children since 1995 and has interrupted natural circulation of the varicella zoster virus in the U.S. population, experts believe that half of Americans reaching 85 years of age will experience shingles at some point in their lifetime. Learn more about shingles…
There are two shingles vaccines licensed for use in the U.S.; Zostavax live attenuated vaccine by Merck and Shingrix a genetically engineered and adjuvanted recombinant vaccine by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals.
Zostavax live attenuated shingles vaccine, licensed in 2006, is a much more potent version of Varivax chickenpox vaccine containing 19,500 plaque forming units of Oka/Merck varicella zoster virus versus 1,350 plaque forming units in the chickenpox vaccine. According to the CDC, Zostavax vaccine reduced shingles by about half (51 percent) in adults 60 years and older.
Shingrix adjuvanted recombinant vaccine, licensed in 2017, is a two dose series vaccine administered intramuscularly (injected into muscle) and is a genetically engineered vaccine. Shingrix is reported to be over 90 percent effective, but no test is available to determine immunity to shingles and long-term vaccine effectiveness is unknown; Learn more about shingles vaccine…
Shingles Quick Facts
- Herpes zoster (shingles) is a viral infection caused by the Varicella Zoster (chicken pox) virus. Individuals suffering with shingles cannot transmit shingles to others. However, someone, who has not already recovered from chickenpox disease, can get chickenpox from a person with shingles. This is believed to be from direct contact with the shingles lesions.
- Symptoms of shingles include pain, itching or tingling of areas of the skin, usually on the trunk of the body, along with fever, headache, chills and an upset stomach; Continue reading quick facts…
- There are two vaccines licensed in the U.S.: Zostavax, a live virus vaccine, licensed in 2006 and manufactured by Merck and SHINGRIX, a genetically engineered recombinant, adjuvanted vaccine, licensed in 2017 and manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals. Both vaccines are approved for use in the U.S. by healthy adults over 50 years and SHINGRIX was given preference by the ACIP in 2017;
- Using the MedAlerts search engine, as of June 30, 2022, there have been 105,527 reports of shingles vaccine reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following shingles vaccinations made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), including 348 related deaths, 4,081 hospitalizations, and 2,565 related disabilities. Continue reading quick facts…
Learn More About Shingles and Shingles Vaccine
NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Shingles and the Shingles vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents below, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.
2 NIH. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Shingles: Hope Through Research – What is Shingles? Modified Mar. 23, 2018
4 Goldman, G.S., King, P.G. Review of the United States universal varicella vaccination program: Herpes zoster incidence rates, cost-effectiveness, and vaccine efficacy based primarily on the Antelope Valley Varicella Active Surveillance Project data. Vaccine, 2013 Mar 25; 31(13): 1680–1694.
6 Fisher, B.L., The Emerging Risks of Live Virus & Virus Vectored Vaccines. NVIC.org. 2014.
7 CDC Vaccines and Preventable Diseases – What Everyone Should Know about Zostavax. Revised Jan. 25, 2018
8 CDC. Vaccines and Preventable Diseases – Vaccines by Disease – Shingles – Shingles Vaccination. Revised Feb. 28, 2018
9 CDC. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines. MMWR Jan 26, 2018; 67(3);103–108
10 CDC. Shingles (Herpes Zoster) – Shingles Home - For Health Care Professionals – Clinical Overview. Revised Feb. 21, 2018
11 CDC. Shingles (Herpes Zoster) – Shingles Home – About Shingles - Transmission. Revised Jan. 19, 2018
14 FDA. Zostavax (Refrigerator Stable). Product Information Sheet. Mar. 21, 2018
15 NIH. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Research – NIAID’s Role in Research – Vaccines – Types of Vaccines. Apr. 3, 2012