Who should get the shingles vaccine?

It is approved by the FDA for persons 60 or older.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends it for persons 50 years or older.

If you have a chronic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, the CDC and American College of Rheumatology  recommend that you have the vaccine because you are at twice the risk of the general population for developing shingles.  You should have the vaccine even if you have had the shingles because you can get shingles more than once.  The vaccine will reduce the risk of getting shingles by 51.7% and reduce the shingles nerve pain by 66.5%.


You should not take the vaccine if:


  • you are using an antiviral drug such as acyclovir, famciclovir or valacyclovir.  These drugs must be stopped before getting the vaccine.

  • you are on any biologic drug such as Enbrel, Humira, Cimzia, Simponi, Remicade, Rituxan, Orencia, or Xeljanz because the vaccine is a live vaccine.

  • you are taking methotrexate unless you discuss it with your rheumatologist

  • you are on 20 mgm of prednisone or more a day

  • if you are allergic to gelatin or neyomycin

  • you have had a varicella vaccine (not available until after 1995), but most every person old enough for the shingles vaccine would not have had the varicella vaccine because it was not available


What are the side effects?

Most people don't have any side effects, but a mild headache and a rash have been reported.

Where do I get the vaccine?

The vaccine comes frozen and is inactivated if it sits at room temperature longer than 30 minutes.  Therefore the vaccine is given at the drug store or at the Health Department.  Some family doctors have it as well.