Shingrix is a vaccine used in adults age 50 or older for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles). It can be given at the same time as the flu vaccine. According to the CDC", giving Shingrix and Fluarix Quadrivalient, a flu vaccine, at the same time resulted in no harmful effects and did not diminish the response of either vaccine.
The Center for Disease Control estimates over 1 million cases of herpes zoster, or shingles, occur each year. Herpes zoster is a painful, skin eruption that occurs due to reactivation of the varicella zoster virus in the body. A painful complication of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia, a persistent pain that can last for at least 90 days following the disappearance of the herpes rash. This complication can occur in 10-13% of patients that have shingles and the incidence increases with age.
It is recommended adults over 50 years of age who are immunocompromised or have chronic medical conditions receive a vaccine, like Shingrix, to prevent the reactivation of the herpes zoster virus in the body. The most common side effects to the vaccine include:
- Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
- Muscle pain
- Stomach upset
Patients who are have moderate to severe illness should wait to receive the vaccination until the illness has past. Per the package insert, Shingrix is 91.3% effective in patients 70 years of age or older in reducing the development of herpes zoster.
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older be vaccinated against the flu virus each year. Each year, 12,000 to 56,000 people die from flu complications per the CDC. The flu is most dangerous for patients who are young (< 2 years old) or old (> 65 years old), immunocompromised, pregnant or have other chronic health conditions like asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, kidney disorders, liver disorders, HIV or AIDS or diabetes. The flu season can start as early as October and run as late as May.
Most patients receive one dose of the flu vaccine each year. Children age 6 months to 8 years will require two doses of the flu vaccine when receiving it for the first time. The flu vaccine is generally well tolerated with the following adverse reactions being the most common:
- Pain, redness or swelling at the injection site
- Low grade fever
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies each year as the strain of the virus most prevalent changes from year to year. Those patients that receive the flu shot are less likely to develop complications should they get the flu virus after being vaccinated. Thus, getting the flu vaccine decreases a patient's chances of ending up hospitalized or even dying.
Receiving both the Shingrix vaccine and the flu vaccine at the same time poses no health risk. Furthermore, the administration of both vaccines together does not alter the effectiveness of either vaccine.