10 Shingles Vaccination Side Effects, Pros and Cons

Are you ready to get your shingles vaccination? Reading this article before your doctor’s appointment will provide information such as shingles vaccination side effects.

It will also outline everything you need to know about the vaccine. Shingles are painful rashes that develop on one side of the face or body.

First and foremost, it is important to know that vaccines, like other medicines, can also have side effects. So what exactly should you know about the shingles vaccination?

Generally, it is a vaccine that prevents shingles, a common and painful skin disease.

The vaccine is administered as an injection in the upper arm and can be given any time of the year. However, unlike the flu vaccine, you will only need to get the shingles vaccine once.

What Are the Available Vaccines for Shingles?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following two shingles vaccines are licensed and available: Shingrix and Zostavax.

While both two vaccines are safe and effective, they are different in composition, effectiveness, and potential side effects. However, the CDC recommends the use of Shingrix over Zostavax in the prevention of shingles.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed this recombinant zoster vaccine in 2017.

According to CDC, adults 50 years and above should have two doses of this vaccine separated by 2 to 6 months.

Adults who are 19 years and older and have weak immune systems due to other health conditions should equally receive two doses of this vaccine.

It’s recommended for adults over 50 years old. Furthermore, adults over 19 with weak immune systems should also get two doses of Shingrix.

Among adults over 50 with strong immune systems, the vaccine has a 90% success rate.

CDC recommends that you should consider getting this vaccine even if in the past you:

  • Had shingles
  • Received chickenpox vaccine
  • Received Zostavax

However, you should not get this vaccine if you:

  • Currently have shingles.
  • Have experienced any form of allergic reaction due to any components of Shingrix or after an initial dose of the vaccine
  • Are pregnant.


This is a zoster vaccine live and was licensed by the FDA in 2006 to prevent shingles.

According to the CDC, one dose of this vaccine should be administered to adults 60 years and above.

The CDC recommends that this vaccine may be administered in such cases as when one prefers it or when one is allergic to Shingix.

A 2012 study published on Pubmed indicated a small risk of allergic reaction of 1 to 7 days on a sample size after the Zostavax vaccine.

You should not receive this vaccine if you:

  • You are allergic to any of its components which include neomycin.
  • Have a blood disorder or any form of cancer that weakens your immunity.
  • Your doctor advises you have a weak immune system from other medication or treatment.
  • Are pregnant. Additionally, you should avoid pregnancy one month after receiving this vaccine.

On the other hand, if you have experienced any of the following, consider talking to your doctor first before going for this vaccine.

  • If you have a fever.
  • If you have HIV infection.
  • If you had or have any medical problems or allergies.

How Do Shingles Vaccines Work?

Zostavax vaccine contains a live form of a weakened varicella-zoster virus. This is so that it stimulates your immune system without actually causing disease.

On the other hand, Shingrix contains an inactivated form of the same virus to stimulate your immunity.

Can You Still Get Shingles After Vaccination?

While both vaccines are highly effective, some people can still get shingles even after vaccination.

However, those who still get the disease after vaccination usually experience mild symptoms and a shorter illness period.

Additionally, you will equally be safe from common shingles complications such as postherpetic neuralgia

10 Shingles Vaccination Side Effects

As mentioned in this piece, the shingles vaccine will help your body create a strong defense against shingles disease.

Due to this, you might experience temporary side effects which may affect your activities for 2 to 3 days. Below are 10 shingles vaccination side effects to expect.


The side effects clear after about three days.

  1. Most people experience a sore arm with wild and moderate pain in the injection area as shingles vaccination side effects. It’s also possible to see redness and swelling where the needle went in.
  2. You may experience stomach or digestive complaints, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or stomach pain.
  3. You may feel tired and muscle pain (myalgia) in the muscles of your body. You can also experience joint pain.
  4. Constant headaches are one of the most common shingles vaccination side effects.
  5. Although uncommon, you may have swollen glands in the neck, armpits, or groin as shingles vaccination side effects.
  6. Fevers are also common. This means that the body is responding to the vaccine.
  7. Although very rare, you can develop Guillain-Barr√© syndrome, which is a rare disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. It’s also possible to develop GBS after getting shingles.


  1. Similarly, with this vaccine, you may experience redness, pain, and itching in the area of injection as shingles vaccination side effects.
  2. Additionally, the injection area may feel warm, bruised, and a hard lump.
  3. Although rare, you may feel nauseated and swollen glands in the neck and armpit as shingles vaccination side effects.
  4. Although rare, you may experience hives in the area of the injection as shingles vaccination side effects.
  5. If you are a patient under immunosuppressive therapy, the vaccine may temporarily damage your retina due to inflammation, resulting in changes in sight.

What Are the Pros and Cons of The Shingles Vaccination?


  • Reduced risk. These vaccines reduce the risk of developing shingles and post-neuralgia.
  • No specific time for getting the vaccine. Both vaccines can be administered at any time of the year.
  • Effective. Both vaccines are highly effective, with Shingrix at 85%.
  • Guaranteed protection. One is guaranteed protection from shingles for four years.
  • Easily available. Both vaccines are easily available in hospitals and clinics.


  • The vaccine can only be administered as injections.
  • Only a healthcare professional can administer both vaccines.
  • Lack of recommendation for use for people between the ages 50-59. This leaves a handful of people unprotected and at risk of developing shingles.
  • The Zostavax vaccine was discontinued in the US.


Shingles is a very painful disease that has numerous complications. It is a disease that you don’t want to go through.

If you experience shingles vaccination side effects, over-the-counter medication can help deal with the symptoms. An ice pack can help lower the swelling at the injection site.

Contact your doctor if the symptoms are not clearing after seven days. For instance, if redness at the injection site becomes painful and itchy, you need medical attention.

The side effects usually appear a few hours after the second shot.

If you are 50 and above, experts suggest that you are at risk of getting the disease. Make a point of visiting your doctor to get a suitable vaccine.

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