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Who Should Not Get Shingles Vaccine?


Zostavax1 2 and Shingrix3 vaccines for shingles are licensed for use only in adults over age 50. Neither vaccine is licensed for use in children or younger adults.

In 2018, the CDC recommended that all adults over 50 years of age receive two doses of Shingrix vaccine.  Shingrix was recommended over Zostavax despite unknown long-term serious side effects and long-term effectiveness. 4

Contraindications to receiving the Zostavax vaccine cited by the CDC include:

  • a previous life-threatening or severe allergic reaction to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin;
  • a previous life-threatening, or severe reaction to any other component of shingles vaccine;
  • Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.5

The manufacturer product insert also lists the following reasons for individuals to not get the Zostavax vaccine, among others:

  • Persons who are immunosuppressed or immune deficient, such as those with a history of leukemia, lymphoma or other disorders affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, AIDS of those on immunosuppressive therapy;
  • Women who are pregnant (“It is not known whether Zostavax can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproduction capacity. Pregnancy should be avoided for 3 months following administration of Zostavax.”);
  • Concurrent acute illness or fever.6 7

Contraindications to receiving the Shingrix vaccine cited by the CDC include:

  • a previous life-threatening or severe allergic reaction to Shingrix or any component of the vaccine
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • If you are moderately or severely ill.8

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Shingles and the Shingles vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , 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.

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References

1 FDA. Zostavax (Frozen). Product Information Sheet. Mar. 21, 2018

2 FDA. Zostavax (Refrigerator Stable). Product Information Sheet. Mar. 21, 2018

3 FDA. Shingrix. Product Information Sheet. Oct. 20, 2017

4 CDC. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines. MMWR Jan 26, 2018; 67(3);103–108

5 CDC. Vaccine Information Statements – VIS Home – Live Shingles VIS. Feb. 12, 2018

6 FDA. Zostavax (Frozen). Product Information Sheet. Mar. 21, 2018

7 FDA. Zostavax (Refrigerator Stable). Product Information Sheet. Mar. 21, 2018

8 CDC. Vaccine Information Statements – VIS Home – Recombinant Shingles VIS. Feb. 12, 2018


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