How Soon After A Shingles Outbreak Can You Get Shingrix?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses when you can get vaccinated with Shingrix after an episode of shingles.

Question

I am recovering from an outbreak that had a negative effect on one eye. How can I judge when to start shingrix innoculations?

Asked by scaly On Mar 28, 2019

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Mar 29, 2019
Shingrix Manufacturer Box With Text Overlay

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is no set 'waiting period' after experiencing an episode of shingles to get vaccinated with Shingrix.[1]

As long as you not currently experiencing any signs or symptoms of shingles, you should be safe to get the vaccine with minimal risk of recurrence as long as it is recommended by your doctor.

In fact, the risk of an individual experiencing a recurrence of shingles within 12-18 months of an episode is extremely low.[2] The Shingrix vaccine should not increase this risk.

The following is an excerpt from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines:[3]

Herpes zoster can recur. Adults with a history of herpes zoster should receive RZV [Shingrix]. If a patient is experiencing an episode of herpes zoster, vaccination should be delayed until the acute stage of the illness is over and symptoms abate. Studies of safety and immunogenicity of RZV in this population are ongoing.

The overall point is that you can get Shingrix, even if you had shingles before, but only as long as you aren't currently experiencing any signs or symptoms of infection.

Other Recommendations

While the CDC states there is no waiting period to get Shingrix after experiencing an episode of shingles, other governing bodies have alternative recommendations.

For example, the Canadian Immunization Guide recommends waiting one year after experiencing an episode of shingles to be vaccinated:[4]

For adults ≥50 years of age without contraindications who have had a previous episode of HZ [herpes zoster], immunization with a 2 dose series of RZV [Shingrix] should be offered. Immunization with RZV [Shingrix] may be considered at least one year after the episode of HZ [herpes zoster].

If you live in the United States, it is recommended you follow the CDC guidelines and any recommendation from your doctor regarding vaccination with Shingrix.

Shingles In The Eye Precaution

Since you mentioned that you had experienced herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO), or shingles that affects the eye, I wanted to mention that there have been rare reports of recurrence or exacerbation of symptoms in those who received Zostavax (the 'live' shingles vaccine).

There is no data however that Shingrix (which is not a 'live' vaccine) is associated with an increased risk of herpes zoster ophthalmicus after vaccination.[5][6][7]

Be sure to talk to your doctor about the potential risks and benefits of the Shingrix vaccination in your particular medical situation.

Summary

There is no waiting period to get Shingrix after an episode of shingles. As long as you are not currently experiencing any signs or symptoms of a shingles infection, you can get the Shingrix vaccine according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).

References
  1. ^ Shingrix Recommendations.Centers for Disease Control
  2. ^ Herpes zoster vaccine and the incidence of recurrent herpes zoster in an immunocompetent elderly population. PubMed
  3. ^ Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)
  4. ^ Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Vaccine: Canadian Immunization Guide. Canadian Immunization Guide for Health Professionals
  5. ^ Epidemiology of Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus: Recurrence and Chronicity PubMed
  6. ^ Practice Patterns and Opinions in the Management of Recurrent or Chronic Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus PubMed
  7. ^ Herpes zoster vaccine live: A 10 year review of post-marketing safety experience PubMed

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of PharmacistAnswers.com. He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy-related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any inquiries or want to connect! He's answered thousands of medication and pharmacy-related questions and he's ready to answer yours! Brian.Staiger@PharmacistAnswers.com Office: 716-389-3076

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