What Are the Pros and Cons of the Shingles Vaccine?


Quick Answer

Pros of the shingles vaccine include a reduced risk of developing shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia, prevention of recurrences and five years of protection from developing shingles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cons of the shingles vaccine include that the CDC doesn't have a recommendation for routine use of the vaccine in people between ages 50 and 59, which potentially leaves some high-risk people unprotected, and that it’s not safe for those with a compromised immune system.

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What Are the Pros and Cons of the Shingles Vaccine?
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Full Answer

The shingles vaccine, Zostavax, provides a 51 percent reduction in the risk of developing shingles and a 67 percent reduction in the risk of developing PHN, states the CDC. With shingles and PHN both being painful conditions, the reduced risk of suffering shingles outbreaks and the possible after effects of PHN is a clear positive of the vaccine. Additional pros of the shingles vaccine are that it’s an easy, single-injection dose, suitable for any time of the year, and it has minimal side effects, according to the National Health Service.

A con to consider with the shingles vaccine is that people who opt to receive the vaccination before they are 60 may not be protected by the vaccine later in life when the risks of shingles and PHN are at their highest, states the CDC. With the Food and Drug Administration approving the vaccine for people aged 50 years or older and the vaccine’s relatively short effective period of five years, some people may not receive the vaccine at the optimal time.

Other possible cons of the vaccine include side effects such as a chickenpox-style rash, soreness, swelling, itching or redness at the injection site, according to the CDC. Some patients who receive the vaccine experience headaches. Despite the rash, people who receive the shingles vaccine do not infect others with chickenpox.

Even adults who have had chickenpox or shingles in the past should receive the shingles vaccine, although people currently suffering from shingles should not get the vaccine until the rash has cleared up, according to the CDC. The shingles vaccine does not protect against other forms of herpes.

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