Shingles Vaccine

Vaccination Services

Vaccination Services

Shingles Vaccine (Zostavax)


Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which is the virus that causes chickenpox. After you have had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus lies dormant (inactive) inside your body. It can become reactivated at a later stage and cause shingles. It is not known exactly why the virus is reactivated, but it is linked to having lowered immunity (protection against infection and diseases).

Your immunity to illness and infection can become lowered if there is a problem with your immune system (the body's natural defence system). This can happen as a result of: old age, stress, HIV, immunosuppressant, etc.

Is shingles contagious?

It is not possible to catch shingles from someone else with the condition, or from someone with chickenpox.

However, it is possible for someone who has never had chickenpox to catch it from someone with shingles, as the shingles blisters contains the live virus.


An episode of shingles typically lasts around two to four weeks. The main symptoms are pain, followed by a rash. Any part of your body can be affected, including your face and eyes, although the chest and abdomen (tummy) are the most common areas where shingles develops.

If one of your eyes is affected by shingles (ophthalmic shingles), there is a risk you could develop further problems in the affected eye (i.e. ulceration, glaucoma).

Vaccination – Zosatavax

Zostavax is approved by FDA for people age 50 years and older. However, it is not recommended (CDC) routine use of this vaccine in healthy individual age 50 through 59 years as the efficacy of Zostavax decreases over time. US CDC recommends Zostavax should only be considered for healthy individual over 60.

Vaccinated individual still has a small chance of getting shingles but with milder symptoms therefore Zostavax is only considered as the prophylaxis therapy for shingles.

The most common side effects are headache, redness, pain, swelling, itching, warmth and bruising at the injection site. However, symptoms should not persist for more than few days. Any signs of allergic reaction (i.e. swollen face, breathing difficulty, arrythmia) should seek medical attention immediately.

Zostavax should not be administered to person with:

    • allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of herpes zoster vaccine
    • weakened immune system, HIVAIDS or another disease that affects the immune system
    • treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, women who are or might be pregnant