How Soon After A Shingles Episode Can You Get Shingrix?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses how soon after an episode or outbreak of shingles you can get the shingles vaccine Shingrix.

Question

How long after a shingles episode can the Shingrix vaccine be given?

Asked by Rav On Sep 06, 2021

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

On Sep 06, 2021

Key points

  • The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in the United States recommends that you should wait until the symptoms from your most recent shingles outbreak episode subside before getting the Shringix vaccine. When you are no longer symptomatic, the vaccine is considered safe to get.
  • The Canadian guidelines are more conservative. They recommend waiting at least one year to get vaccinated with Shingrix following the last episode of shingles.

Hello and thank you for your question!

It can certainly be a challenge to understand when you are due for a particular vaccine, and whether or not you can get more than one at a time.

Additionally, a very common question regarding Shingrix, the preferred shingles vaccine according to ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices), is when you can get it after experiencing an episode of shingles.

In regard to this, recommendations vary.

CDC Recommendation

The CDC (Centers For Disease Control) recommends the following:

"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 [recombinant zoster vaccine] in this population are ongoing."

In other words, the CDC recommends that patients can get Shingrix as long as a prior episode of shingles has subsided and residual symptoms have gone away.

Health Canada Recommendation

Health Canada recommends a more conservative approach:

"May be administered to individuals 50 years of age and older with a prior history of HZ disease with at least one year recommended following the last episode of HZ."

Recurrent Shingles Risk

So, which recommendation to follow?

First and foremost, it is important to speak to your doctor regarding the best time for you to be vaccinated for your particular medical situation.

Having said that, it should be noted that studies indicate that the risk of recurrent episodes of shingles is low for the first 12 to 18 months after an episode, mostly due to residual immunity.

One study on the matter concluded the following:

"Such a low risk [of recurrent shingles within 18 months] suggests that one should evaluate the necessity of immediately vaccinating immunocompetent patients who had a recent herpes zoster episode."

According to the above study, it doesn't appear necessary to immediately seek the shingles vaccination after an episode of an outbreak, as the risk of it occurring again suddenly is low anyway.

In other words, vaccinating within the first 12 or so months after a shingles episode (for someone with no known immune system problems) may not have much of a benefit anyway, as our immune system already has a recent 'memory' of the virus, and would be able to respond more rapidly and effectively.

As mentioned, however, be sure to talk to your doctor about when is best for you to be vaccinated.

Thank you again for your question!

References

  • Herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine: Canadian Immunization Guide, Canadian Immunization Guide
  • Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines, CDC
  • Herpes zoster vaccine and the incidence of recurrent herpes zoster in an immunocompetent elderly population, PubMed
  • Zoster (Shingles) ACIP Vaccine Recommendations, CDC

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 11 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication related questions!

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