Shingles is a reactivation of the chickenpox you had in previous years. The risk of shingles increases as we get older.
Shingles can cause severe blisters, pain & burning on the torso, limbs or face. For 1 in 5 people with shingles the long term nerve pain can go on for months or years. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia.
Shingrix provides 97% protection in the 50 – 69 age group and 91% protection in the over 70 age group. Shingrix will protect against shingles for at least 10 years.
Shingrix is given as 2 doses 2-6 months apart at cost of $150 per dose. Many extended health plans will pay for this vaccine.
Shingrix causes pain at the injection site & a small number of people report fever & feeling unwell for 2-3 days.
In an automated review of Shingrix vaccine, 6 additional cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) were identified for every million doses of Shingrix used. This does not mean that Shingrix causes GBS but more studies are needed. Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves. Paralysis may result but usually resolves with supportive care.
Shingrix may be given 8 weeks after Zostavax although most experts recommend waiting 5 years after Zostavax in order to get the maximum length of immunity from both vaccines. Zostavax vaccine provides 51% protection against shingles for 5 years.
Shingrix may be given after an episode of shingles but wait until the lesions heal. Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends waiting one year after a shingles episode to administer Shingrix.