Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Vaccine:
A Fact Sheet for Providers
Vaccine Information Recommendations
• e vaccine called Zostavax® is manufactured by Merck
and is currently licensed for adults 60 years of age or
Who Should Receive This
• e vaccine is a live, attenuated vaccine for the prevention
of Herpes Zoster (shingles) and Post-Herpetic Neuralgia • e CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
(PHN). (ACIP) recommends a single dose of shingles vaccine for
• e vaccine is given subcutaneously (subQ), preferably in adults 60 years of age or older.
the upper arm. • is vaccine may be given to individuals who have had a
• is vaccine contains more virus than the Varicella history of shingles.
vaccine and should NOT be given to children. • Persons with chronic medical conditions may be vaccinated
unless a contraindication or precaution exists for their
Vaccine Efficacy condition.
• More than 38,000 persons were involved in the Shingles
Prevention Study. e vaccine was well tolerated. Who Should Not Receive
• Overall, in recipients ages 60 years and above, the vaccine This Vaccine?
reduced the occurrence of shingles by 51%. In recipients
ages 60-69 years, it was reduced by 64%. • Children should not be given this vaccine. It contains more
• e duration of pain following the onset of shingles was than seven times the concentration of the Varicella vaccine,
slightly reduced in people who developed the disease and is NOT a substitute for Varicella vaccine.
despite being vaccinated with herpes zoster vaccine. • Anyone who ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to
• e vaccine also reduced the frequency of post-herpetic gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component
neuralgia (PHN) in vaccine recipients who developed of shingles vaccine.
shingles despite being vaccinated. • Anyone who has a weakened immune system caused by
treatments including radiation and corticosteroids, or due
to conditions such as AIDS, cancer of the lymph, bone or
Vaccine Safety • People who are younger than 60 years of age. ere is not
• e most common side e ects in vaccine recipients were enough information to determine the risks and bene ts of
redness, pain and tenderness, swelling at the injection vaccinating people younger than 60 years of age.
site, itching and headache. • Persons with active, untreated tuberculosis.
• Persons with acute illness, especially with fever.
Other Important Information
• ere is no imerosal or any other preservative contained in the vaccine.
• People who are in close contact with pregnant women who have not had chickenpox disease should talk to their healthcare
provider to decide if the vaccine is right for them.
• e vaccine does not treat shingles or prevent Post-Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN) once it develops.
• Reimbursement issues have not yet been completely resolved.
• e vaccine must be stored at freezer temperature at all times.
• e vaccine must be used within 30 minutes of reconstitution.
CDC’s National Immunization Program: http://www.cdc.gov/nip
San Diego Immunization Branch: http://www.sdiz.org HHSA: IZ137 (1/07)
Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Vaccine:
Talking Points for Providers
What is Herpes Zoster or Shingles?
Shingles or Herpes Zoster is a painful skin rash o en with blisters. A shingles rash usually appears on one side of the face
or body and lasts from 2 to 4 weeks. Its main symptom is pain, which can be quite severe. Other symptoms of shingles
can include fever, headache, chills and upset stomach. Very rarely, a shingles infection can lead to pneumonia, hearing
problems, blindness, brain in ammation (encephalitis) or death. Pain that lasts for months a er the rash is called
post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). For some people, this pain can be severe and chronic.
How Common is Herpes Zoster?
Anyone who has had chickenpox or received chickenpox vaccine is at risk for developing Herpes Zoster. It is estimated
that 1 million or more cases occur each year in the U.S. Herpes Zoster can occur in people of all ages, but most com-
monly in those over 60 years of age, and this risk increases as people get older.
What causes Herpes Zoster?
Herpes Zoster is caused by the Varicella Zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Only someone who has had
a case of chickenpox or received chickenpox vaccine can get Herpes Zoster. e virus stays in your body and can reap-
pear many years later. e cause for this reappearance is not known, but it is thought that a combination of factors can
trigger shingles, including age and suppression of the immune system.
Can Herpes Zoster be spread to others?
e virus that causes shingles, Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV), can be spread from a person with active shingles to a
person who has never had chickenpox through direct. e person exposed would develop chickenpox, not shingles.
Herpes Zoster is not spread through sneezing, coughing or casual contact. A person with shingles can spread the
disease when the rash is in the blister phase. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious. A
person is not infectious before blisters appear or with post-herpetic neuralgia.
How well does this vaccine work to prevent Herpes Zoster?
e studies for the zoster vaccine enrolled approximately 38,000 people thoughout the U.S. who were 60 years of age or
older; approximately half received the vaccine and half received placebo. Study participants were followed on average
for three years to see if they developed Herpes Zoster and if they did, how long the pain lasted. Overall, in persons age
60 years and older, the vaccine reduced the occurrence of herpes zoster by about 50%. e vaccine e ect was highest at
64% in people between the ages of 60-69, but its e ectiveness declined with increasing age to 41% for the 70-79 age
group and 18% for those 80 years of age and older.
Should the vaccine be used in people who are under 60 years of age?
No, there is not enough information from the studies to determine the risks and bene ts of the vaccine given to people
younger than 60 years of age. is vaccine SHOULD NOT be given to children.
Will this vaccine prevent Post-Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN)?
In people who were 60 years of age and older, and still developed shingles despite being vaccinated, the vaccine reduced
the frequency of PHN, the pain associated with shingles. Overall, the bene t of the vaccine in preventing PHN is due to
the e ect of the vaccine on reducing the risk of developing herpes zoster. e vaccine does not treat PHN.