The most common side effects of Zostavax, the shingles vaccine, include injection site reactions, diarrhea, muscle and joint pain, headache and mild skin rash, according to Drugs.com. More serious side effects include flu-like symptoms with fever, sore throat and swollen glands; a severe or painful skin rash; and breathing problems.
Some individuals should not receive Zostavax, notes Drugs.com. People with lymphoma or leukemia or other cancers affecting the bone marrow, those with untreated tuberculosis, those with weakened immune systems, and those who have allergies to gelatin or neomycin should avoid the vaccine as should pregnant women.
Additionally, those who have had an allergic reaction to any vaccine, those who have never had chicken pox, and those who have recently received a live vaccine should let their doctor know, states Drugs.com. The shingles vaccine may not be safe for these individuals, or it may need to be rescheduled.
The shingles vaccine is a live virus indicated for the prevention of herpes zoster virus in adults 50 and older, explains Everyday Health. It works by exposing the immune system to a small amount of the weakened virus, causing the development of antibodies that eventually leads to immunity. The shingles vaccine does not treat shingles or the nerve pain shingles can cause once these conditions have developed.