Protects against shingles


  • It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox
  • After getting chickenpox, the virus stays in the body. The virus may be there for many years and not cause any problems. Sometimes, for unknown reasons, it becomes active again many years later and causes shingles
  • You may get symptoms such as rash, itching, and pain followed by clusters of blisters
  • The rash usually appears on one side of the body, along the nerve pathway and lasts 7-10 days with complete healing within 2-4 weeks
  • Common sites for the rash include the chest, back, buttocks, neck, face and scalp
  • Before the rash develops, there is often pain, itching or tingling in the area where the rash will develop
  • Shingles infection is very painful and can cause pneumonia, hearing problems, eye damage, brain inflammation or death
  • Approximately 1 out of every 3 people will develop shingles at some time in their life. The risk of developing shingles increases with age and most cases occur in people over 50 years of age. People with weakened immune systems are also at increased risk of developing shingles   ​

Who should get the Zostavax™ vaccine?

  • People 50 years of age or older, even if they have already had shingles

Who should not get the Zostavax™ vaccine?

  • People under 50 years of age
  • People who have had a bad reaction to a vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine
  • People who have a blood disorder or any type of cancer that weakens the immune system
  • People who have a weakened immune system as a result of disease, medications or treatment
  • People taking medication that weakens the immune system, including high dose steroids. The medication should be stopped for at least one month before receiving the Zostavax™ vaccine or people taking Zostavax should wait one month after vaccination before starting immunosuppressive therapy.
  • People who have received a blood product called intravenous immunoglobulin in the past three months
  • People who have taken certain antiviral drugs within the past two days
  • People who are or might be pregnant or breastfeeding. Avoid pregnancy for at least one month after receiving vaccine
  • People with active untreated tuberculosis
  • Shingles vaccine should not be given at the same time as Pneumovax 23

Is the Zostavax™ vaccine safe?

  • Yes. You may have redness, tenderness, swelling and warmth where the needle went in and headache
  • You may also have a few pimples resembling chickenpox
  • Serious reactions to the vaccine are rare (e.g. hives, swelling of the mouth or throat or trouble breathing)
  • Call your doctor if you or your child have any of these problems within 3 days of getting the needle:
    • Hives
    • Swelling of your face or mouth
    • Trouble breathing
    • Very pale colour and tiredness
    • High fever (over 39° C or 102.2° F)
    • Convulsions (muscle spasms) or seizures
    • Other serious problems