Answer

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends against vaccination with Shingrix, the shingles vaccine, if you are experiencing an acute episode of herpes zoster (i.e. shingles). Shingrix is not a treatment for an active shingles infection.

Per the CDC:

"A person experiencing an acute episode of herpes zoster [is a contraindication for vaccination]. Shingrix is not a treatment for herpes zoster or postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). The general guidance for any vaccine is to wait until the acute stage of the illness is over and symptoms abate."
Shingles Vaccine Recommendations (CDC)

The Canadian vaccination guidelines differ slightly from those provided by the CDC. They recommend that you allow at least one year to elapse between the last shingles episode and zoster vaccination.

So, while you shouldn't get Shingrix if you have an active shingles infection, it is important to note that you can have it administered if you only have with a minor illness, such as a cold. However, if you have a more severe illness, or have a temperature of 101.3°F or higher, it is recommended to wait.

Remember that the Shingrix vaccine is recommended even if you have had shingles before as it can (and often does) recur. Additionally, it should be administered regardless of your history with chickenpox.

Below is some additional information regarding Shingrix.


What Is Shingrix?

Shingrix is a recombinant vaccine recommended for adults at least 50 years of age and older to prevent shingles and related complications.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend that all adults 50 years of age and older and without a contraindication (e.g. an allergy) receive herpes zoster vaccination with (Shingrix), even in those who previously received Zostavax (the other available shingles vaccine). Shingrix is given as a two-shot series, with doses separated by 2 to 6 months.

In studies, Shingrix has been shown to maintain its efficacy for longer periods of time when compared to Zostavax.

Shingrix is not a live vaccine, unlike Zostavax. In most situations, it can be administered at the same time as the seasonal flu vaccine. Be sure to speak with your pharmacist or doctor regarding whether or not getting vaccinated with Shingrix is recommended for you in your situation.


Summary

  • Shingrix should not be given if you are currently experiencing an episode of shingles.
  • The CDC recommends to wait until any acute episode of shingles is resolved before receiving the vaccine.
  • Canadian guidelines recommend to wait one year after experiencing an episode of shingles to receive Shingrix.

  • References
    1. Zostavax Prescribing Information. Merck
    2. Shingrix Prescribing Information. AccessFDA
    3. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines. PubMed
    4. Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Vaccine: Canadian Immunization Guide? Health Canada
    5. Shingrix Recommendations. CDC