Shingrix vaccine

The Shingrix vaccine protects against herpes zoster virus (shingles infection). Find out about the vaccine and possible side effects.

On this page, you can find the following information:

What is Shingrix?

Shingrix is a vaccine that can prevent you from getting shingles and, if you do get shingles, this vaccine can prevent you from complications of shingles including long-term pain. 

Shingles can be very painful and your risk of getting it increases as you age. You are also more likely to have severe, long-term pain if you get shingles when you are older. Read more about why vaccination against shingles recommended.

Who can get Shingrix?

Shingrix vaccine is recommended for:

  • anyone from 50 years of age
  • individuals from 18 years of age with health conditions that increase their risk of shingles episodes, including those who have weakened immune systems.

Note, Shingrix is free (funded) for people who are 65 years of age. Shingrix requires two doses given 6 months apart. As long as the person being vaccinated is 65 when they receive their first dose, both doses will be funded.

How is Shingrix given?

Shingrix is given as an intramuscular injection (injected into the muscle on your upper arm). It is given as 2 doses, with the second dose given 2 to 6 months after the first.

Who should not get Shingrix?

Shingrix should not be given to anyone who:

  • has had a severe allergy (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of this vaccine, or a component of the vaccine
  • currently has shingles.

People with minor illnesses, eg, a cold, can be vaccinated but if you have a fever over 38°C you should wait. Your health care provider can advise you on when to have it.

If you have a bleeding disorder, eg, haemophilia or thrombocytopenia, intramuscular injections must be given cautiously, so check with your doctor if you are in this group.

What if I have already had a Zostavax vaccination or have had shingles recently?

If you have had Zostavax, or have had shingles recently, your immunity to shingles has been boosted. This reduces the chances of you getting it in the near future, so it is recommended that you wait at least a year before getting the Shingrix vaccine. 

Some people with weakened immune systems, and who are risk of getting shingles, can get Shingrix sooner – from 3 months after a Zostavax vaccination or after having had shingles.

Can Shingrix be given at the same time as other vaccines?

Shingrix can be given at the same time as some other vaccines. If they are given at the same time, you will receive the vaccines at separate places on your arms and with different syringes. But for some vaccines, to ensure a good immune response, it is preferable to allow a few days between vaccinations. Talk to your healthcare provider about your options.

Possible side effects 

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. 

Side effects What should I do?
  • Headache
  • Feeling unwell, tired or weak
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever 
  • Shivering
  • Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting) 
  • Runny poo (diarrhoea/hamuti) 
  • These are quite common after receiving the vaccine.
  • They usually settle within a few days.
  • Rest and drink plenty of liquids.
  • The routine use of paracetamol is not recommended after vaccinations, but may be used for severe discomfort.  
  • Tell your doctor if these side effects bother you.
  • Pain and redness at the injection site
  • This is quite common after having the vaccination.
  • It usually starts a few hours after getting the injection and settles within a few days.
  • Place a cold, wet cloth or ice pack where the injection was given. Leave it on for a short time. 
  • Don't rub the injection site.
  • Tell your doctor if it is a problem.

Read more about what happens after your immunisation.

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as skin rash, itching, blisters, peeling skin, swelling of the face, lips or mouth, or problems breathing
  • Allergic reaction to the vaccine is rare.
  • If you develops these signs within a few hours or days of the vaccination, call an ambulance or immediately go to the nearest hospital and tell them you have had a Shingrix vaccination.
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.

Where can I get vaccinated?

The best place to go for your Shingrix vaccine is your family doctor or GP. They have your medical records and can check to see if you are eligible for the vaccine. Either your doctor or a nurse can give the vaccination.

Learn more

The following links has more information about Shingrix:

References

  1. Shingrix The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
  2. Zoster (herpes zoster/shingles) recombinant vaccine New Zealand Formulary
  3. Recombinant zoster (shingles) vaccine – what you need to know CDC, US
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 11 Jul 2022