Is Shingrix Recommended If You Already Had Zostavax?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses recommendations for Shingrix if you've already had Zostavax.

Question

I had the older single-dose Zostavax vaccine 5 years ago. I had a mild case of singles about 10 months later. Is this one dose of Zostavax all I need, or should I get the newer 2 doses of Shingrix vaccination now? Thank you.

Asked by JoS On Aug 09, 2022

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

Published Aug 10, 2022
Last updated Aug 10, 2022

Key points

  • Shingrix is recommended for adults 50 years old and over, even if you have had Zostavax in the past.
  • It is recommended to wait at least 8 weeks after your Zostavax vaccination to be given Shingrix. As Zostavax was discontinued in 2020, this waiting period is no longer a concern.

Hello and thanks for contacting us!

Zostavax and Shingrix are both vaccines for the prevention of shingles. Zostavax was first on the market, being first used in 2006, and was manufactured by Merck & Co. Shingrix was released in 2017 and is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.

Clinical trials show that Shingrix has far superior efficacy in preventing shingles episodes when compared to Zostavax, and soon after the release of Shingrix, it was the shingles vaccine of choice for most people. Unless an individual had a specific allergy or contraindication to Shingles, it was the shingles vaccine recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and immunization experts.

Due to Shingirx being more effective than Zostavax, and it being the recommended shingles vaccine, Zostavax was discontinued by Merck in 2020.

Shingrix After Zostavax

Millions of individuals were vaccinated with Zostavax when it was on the market. So, a very common question that comes up is whether or not you should get vaccinated with Shingrix if you've already been vaccinated with Zostavax. The answer here is that it is recommended to receive Shingrix, even if you've had Zostavax before.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) states the following:

You may have already got a different shingles vaccine called Zostavax, which is no longer in use in the United States. If you did, you still need 2 doses of Shingrix.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) CDC

You mention in your question that it has been five years since you had Zostavax. This is more than enough time between Zostavax and getting Shingrix. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) states that you can receive Shingrix 8 weeks after getting Zostavax:

ACIP recommends that people who previously received Zostavax receive 2 doses of Shingrix. The first dose of Shingrix may be given a minimum of 8 weeks after Zostavax.
Ask the Experts Zoster (shingles)

Since Zostavax was discontinued in late 2020, having to wait at least 8 weeks isn't a concern anymore.

Final Words

Going back to the situation you described in your question, it would be recommended for you to get the Shingrix vaccine. It has been more than 8 weeks since your Zostavax dose and the CDC states you can get vaccinated after your most recent shingles episode has cleared up (we wrote about this recently).

I want to thank you for your question and please feel free to reach back out again!

References

  • What Everyone Should Know about the Shingles Vaccine (Shingrix), CDC
  • Get the Shingrix Vaccine If You Are 50 or Older, CDC
  • Ask the Experts Zoster (shingles), Immunize.org

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! Feel free to send him an email at Hello@HelloPharmacist.com! You can also connect with Dr. Brian Staiger on LinkedIn.

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