The incidence of serious cardiovascular events during the first 42 days after receiving the shingles vaccine was slightly higher in people who received the vaccine than in those who received a placebo, according to studies cited on RxList. However, the overall incidence of serious cardiovascular events was low.
The Shingles Prevention Study and the AE Monitoring Sub-study passively monitored about 3,300 individuals who received the shingles vaccine and a similar number who received a placebo for a period of five years. At two and five years post-vaccination, the rates of hospitalization, death and serious cardiovascular events was similar in the two groups, RxList explains. Longer-term studies are not available as of 2015.
Other less serious reactions were reported during the 42-day post-vaccination period by more people who received the shingles vaccine than by those who did not. These included: headache, respiratory infection, fever, flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, runny nose, weakness and a skin rash, RxList explains. Additionally, the incidence of non-injection site rashes that resembled shingles occurred in both groups. However, the incidence of confirmed shingles infection was lower in the vaccinated group, according to RxList.
Shingles is the result of reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the virus that causes chicken pox, explains WebMD. Anyone who has had chicken pox is at risk for shingles, which causes a painful, itchy, blister-like rash that typically occurs on one side of the body along the path of a single nerve.
About 10 to 20 percent of people who get shingles go on to develop postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN, a chronic condition that causes severe, burning pain that persists indefinitely. The shingles vaccine prevents about 50 percent of shingles cases, and helps decrease the incidence and severity of PHN, WebMD explains.