Overview

According to the CDC (Centers For Disease Control), Shingrix is the preferred vaccine for the prevention of shingles (also known as herpes zoster), replacing Zostavax.

This mostly due to the effectiveness of Shingrix, which we discuss in a different article on our site.

One of the most common questions regarding Shingrix is whether or not you should be vaccinated with it if you have had an episode of shingles in the past.

The answer is yes, regardless of your history of shingles, Shingrix is recommended for healthy adults aged 50 years and older.

History Of Shingles

Yes, regardless of your history of shingles outbreaks, you are still recommended to get the vaccine.

According to the CDC:

"Even if you have had shingles, you can still receive shingles vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time you must wait after having shingles before receiving shingles vaccine, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated. The decision on when to get vaccinated should be made with your healthcare provide"

Similarly, the Canadian Immunization Guide recommends the following:

"HZ [herpes zoster] vaccine may be administered to individuals 50 years of age and older with a prior history of HZ disease. Based on expert opinion, there should be an interval of at least one year between an episode of HZ and receipt of HZ vaccine."

The only difference between the two recommendations is the waiting period after an active infection.

The CDC simply states to wait until symptoms/rash have subsided while Health Canada recommends to wait one year.

Studies do show that the risk of reinfection is generally low for the first 12 to 18 months after an outbreak due to residual immunity, so you can feel relatively safe waiting at least a few months after an outbreak has cleared.

Section Summary
Shingrix is recommened even if you have had a shingles infection before. It reduces the risk of a re-infection.

History Of Chickenpox 

Whether or not you have had chickenpox in the past makes no difference. The shingles vaccine is still recommended.

In fact, if you don't know if you have been exposed to chickenpox in the past, screening isn't even recommended by the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) as studies show that more than 99% of adults over 50 years of age and older have been exposed to varicella zoster virus, even if there weren't any noticeable signs of infection.

Section Summary
Shingrix is recommended regardless of your history with chickenpox. Screening for infection with chickenpox isn't recommended.

Summary

  • Shingrix is recommended regardless of whether or not you have had a herpes zoster (i.e. shingles) outbreak in the past.
  • Shingrix is recommended regardless of your history with chickenpox.