Shingles Vaccination

What is the shingles vaccine?

The shingles vaccine protects against shingles, a painful rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox.

After you have chickenpox, the virus stays in your body in nerve cells. Years later, the virus may reactivate and cause shingles. The risk of shingles increases with age, especially for people over 50 and rises sharply after age 60.

How the shingles vaccine works

The shingles vaccine works by stimulating the body's immune system to produce an immune response against the VZV. This helps to protect you from getting shingles or from developing severe shingles if you do get it.

Types of shingles vaccines

There are 2 types of shingles vaccines available:

  • Live attenuated vaccine
  • Recombinant subunit vaccine

Both vaccines are effective at preventing shingles. However, the recombinant subunit vaccine is generally considered to be more effective and provide longer-lasting protection.

We offer the recombinant subunit shingles vaccine in Parkway Shenton clinics.

Differences between the shingles vaccines

  • Live attenuated vaccine. This contains a weakened form of the VZV and is given as a single injection. It boosts the immune system's ability to respond to the VZV without causing the disease.
  • Recombinant subunit vaccine. This uses a piece of the VZV to prompt the immune system to defend against shingles. It's administered in 2 doses, with the second dose given 2 – 6 months after the first. This vaccine is generally considered to be safer, especially for people with weakened immune systems.

Why do you need the shingles vaccine?

Shingles can lead to severe nerve pain (postherpetic neuralgia) that can last for months or even years after the rash has gone away. Vaccination can prevent shingles and the long-term pain it can cause. It's particularly important for:

  • Seniors, as the risk of shingles increases with age
  • Individuals with weakened immune systems, where shingles can be more severe

When do you need the shingles vaccine?

It is generally recommended for:

  • Seniors aged 50 years and older, even if they've previously had shingles
  • Individuals aged 18 years and older with chronic medical conditions (unless a contraindication or precaution exists), after consulting with their doctor

Who should not receive the shingles vaccine?

Individuals should avoid the shingles vaccine if they:

  • Have a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or after a dose of the vaccine
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have active, untreated tuberculosis
  • Are experiencing an acute illness or fever
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Have recently had a blood transfusion or bone marrow transplant

How do you prepare for the shingles vaccine?

Before vaccination, discuss with your doctor:

  • Any allergies you have
  • Your medical history, especially immune system health
  • If you are or plan to become pregnant or are breastfeeding
  • Your current medications, including over-the-counter products

What can you expect when getting the shingles vaccine?

The shingles vaccine is given as an injection in the upper arm. The process is quick, and you may need to stay for a short period post-vaccination to ensure no immediate reaction.

What are the common side effects of the shingles vaccine?

Common side effects include:

  • Mild pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
  • Low-grade fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

What are the serious side effects that require medical attention?

Serious side effects are rare but can include:

  • Severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis (hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • High fever
  • Shingles-like rash

If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately.

Where can I get vaccinated?

Find a Parkway Shenton clinic near you and call us to confirm if your preferred vaccine is available.

Find a clinic near me

Why choose Parkway Shenton?

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Comprehensive family care

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Connection to IHH network

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Singapore’s oldest GP group

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