What Are the Risks to the Shingles Vaccine?


Quick Answer

The risks of the shingles vaccine include swelling, redness and itching after the shot. Some patients may develop a headache; however, this is a rare side effect of the vaccine, says WebMD.

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Full Answer

People older than 60 years old can benefit from the shingles vaccine, Zostavax, in order to avoid getting the virus. Those who have already had shingles can take the Zostavax vaccine so the condition does not recur, WebMD suggests. Caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, shingles breaks out in a skin rash with blisters. The vaccine prevents a shingles outbreak, and can stop post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), a type of nerve pain that can persist after the rashes end.

As with any vaccine, Zostavax has potential risks and side effects. Most of them are minor, such as soreness at the injection site. People with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and those allergic to the antibiotic neomycin should not get the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that adults older than 60 years old receive the vaccine regardless of whether they have had shingles before, but the vaccine is available to everyone older than 50 years old.

The shingles vaccine overall is a fairly safe vaccine with minor risks. Most importantly, it can prevent a virus that affects millions of Americans, says WebMD.

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