What are the potential side effects of the shingles vaccine?

Herpes zoster (shingles) is caused by the chickenpox virus (Chickenpox shingles virus or VZV). After chickenpox, VZV goes dormant in your body.

If it reactivates later, it can cause shingles. Shingles vaccination is the only way to prevent shingles or complications.

Studies have shown that the vaccine is safe and 90% effective. Even so, it’s not safe for some people.

This article looks at the symptoms and complications of shingles, who should and should not get the shingles vaccine, and the side effects it can cause.

Shingles Symptoms and Complications

The symptoms of shingles are divided into two phases: the prodromal phase and the rash phase.

prodromal period

Prodromal symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • nausea
  • headache
  • Sensitivity
  • Intense burning, stinging, or stinging pain in one part of the body

The skin in the painful area may look and feel like a sunburn.


After about 3 to 5 days, you develop a painful, pimple-like rash over the painful area. It usually stings when you touch it.

The pimples then turn into blisters. Your skin may also be inflamed. Some people may experience only mild symptoms, but for others, shingles can cause severe pain.

The virus affects your nerves and will only attack areas controlled by a single nerve.These areas are called skin festival. Shingles does not spread beyond the dermatome.


After the rash goes away, some people develop complications. Common ones include:

  • postherpetic neuralgia: Damaged nerves cause persistent pain where the rash appears. This can be severe, deep, burning pain that lasts for three months or more.
  • Bacterial skin infection: When shingles blisters burst, bacteria can enter.
  • Facial pain: Sometimes shingles can affect the three nerve branches in the face and leave pain behind.
  • Eye damage: A branch of the facial nerve enters the eye. Damage there can lead to eye damage, which can be serious.
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If you have shingles and think you are developing any of these complications, seek medical attention right away.

VZV and your nervous system

Who should get the shingles vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says you should get the shingles vaccine if you:

  • In good health, over 50 years old
  • no shingles
  • Not sure if you have chickenpox
  • have had shingles before (some people may have shingles two or three times)
  • Previously vaccinated with Zostavax shingles vaccine (no longer available in the U.S.)
  • Are 19 years of age or older and (or will be) immunocompromised or immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment

An estimated 99 percent of Americans over the age of 40 have chickenpox.

Do you have the Zostavax vaccine?

If you have Zostavax, ask your healthcare provider when you should get the updated Shingrix vaccine.

Best strategies for preventing shingles

Who shouldn’t get the shingles vaccine?

The CDC says some people shouldn’t get the shingles vaccine. This includes those:

  • allergic to vaccines
  • Negative VZV immunization test (meaning you have not had chickenpox and should get the vaccine)
  • currently have shingles
  • pregnant or breastfeeding
  • have a severe or moderate acute illness, such as a respiratory infection
  • The temperature is 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit or higher

Your healthcare provider can answer any questions you have about whether the vaccine is safe for you.

Treating shingles in the mouth

Shingles is not usually life-threatening. However, it can happen if your immune system is compromised.

Will Shingles Kill You?

potential side effects

Research shows that the shingles vaccine is safe. This is a two-shot series. Some people experience temporary side effects afterwards.

Common side effects usually last two to three days. They include:

  • Mild to moderate pain in the injection arm
  • redness and swelling at the injection site
  • fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • headache
  • fever and chills
  • stomachache
  • nausea

The CDC says about one in six people will feel ill a few days after getting the vaccine. Some people respond to only one dose, while others respond to both.


Shingles comes from the same virus as chickenpox. The shingles vaccine is the only way to prevent it.

Shingles can be very painful. Some people develop complications, including lingering nerve pain and skin infections.

Most people can be safely vaccinated. However, there are several situations or situations that could be dangerous to you. Your healthcare provider can help you decide if it’s safe.

Side effects may make you feel sick for a few days after getting the vaccine.

VigorTip words

If you have a side effect of the shingles vaccine, the CDC recommends reporting it to the Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Or your healthcare provider may submit this document for you. You can file a report by calling 1-800-822-7967.

If you have any questions or concerns about vaccines, talk with your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How often do you need the shingles vaccine?

    Shingrix (the shingles vaccine) is a two-dose series. You should get your dose between two and six months.

  • How long does it take for shingles to be contagious?

    Shingles is usually not contagious. But you can spread the virus to someone who is not immune to chickenpox.

    The virus can spread during the blister stage of the rash, which can last up to five weeks. Covering the rash can help prevent it from spreading.

  • Can I get shingles after being vaccinated?

    You are less likely to get shingles after being vaccinated. Clinical trials have shown that Shingrix prevents shingles in at least 91% of people over the age of 50. This age group has the highest risk of developing shingles.

  • Who should get the shingles vaccine?

    All healthy adults over the age of 50 should get the shingles vaccine unless they have contraindications such as allergies or pregnancy. This includes the following people:

    • previously had shingles
    • Received Zostavax (a now-discontinued shingles vaccine)
    • I don’t know if I have had chickenpox
  • How long will the side effects of the shingles vaccine last?

    Side effects of the shingles vaccine usually last up to three days. These side effects may include injection site pain, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, stomach pain, nausea, fever or chills.