Expert Health Articles


Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles most commonly occurs in individuals over the age of 50 and becomes more prevalent with increasing age. Those previously diagnosed with chickenpox and/or shingles in their lifetime are at risk of developing shingles, as the varicella-zoster virus lays dormant in the body after an infection and can reactivate to cause a painful rash with blisters. Shingles may be associated with additional symptoms such as fever, headache, and fatigue.  


To prevent shingles, individuals should receive two doses of a vaccine by the name of “Shingrix”.  The 2-dose immunization of “Shingrix” is a recombinant, adjuvant vaccine and are is available at your doctor’s office or local pharmacy. The first and second doses should be separated by 2 to 6 months. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that individuals over the age of 50 should receive the Shingrix vaccine regardless of their history of chickenpox and/or shingles. You should not receive the vaccine if you are allergic to any component of the vaccine, are pregnant and/or breastfeeding, or are currently experiencing a moderate to severe acute illness such as a cold, a fever, influenza, or COVID-19. 


Following the completion of both doses, Shingrix has shown to be over 90% effective and overall very safe. Mild side effects may arise within 2 to 3 days after administration but typically subside on their own. If warranted, treat mild symptoms at home with over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen). While rare, moderate to severe symptoms should be reported to you doctor or pharmacist immediately. 


If you received a shingles vaccine prior to November 2020, you may have received a vaccine by the name of “Zostavax” which also prevents shingles. This vaccine has proven to be less effective than Shingrix and has since been removed from the market within the United States. If you received a Zostavax vaccine, you should still receive the Shingrix vaccine to assure proper protection from shingles. 


Alexis Youngpeter, pharmacy intern

Working under Supervisor, Michael Leifheit

Blanchard Valley Hospital Pharmacy