Who Should Get the Shingles Vaccine – Are There Side Effects?

Shingles most commonly occurs in people ages 50 years old or older, people who have medical conditions that keep the immune system from working properly, or people who receive immunosuppressive drugs.

The vaccine has been approved for people ages 50 or older. As for recommendations, the CDC recommends a single dose of the vaccine for people ages 60 and older, even if they’ve already had a bout of shingles. Since the majority of older Americans had chickenpox as children, millions of people are vulnerable to shingles.

According to the CDC, don’t get a shingles vaccine if you have the following:

  • A life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of the shingles vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
  • HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system
  • Treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids
  • Cancer treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy
  • A history of cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma
  • Active, untreated tuberculosis
  • Pregnancy (or might be pregnant). Women should not become pregnant until at least three months after getting shingles vaccine.

If you have a minor illness like a cold, it’s OK to get the shingles vaccine. But if you are moderately or severely ill, it’s best to wait until you recover to get the shingles vaccine.

Similar to a flu shot, the shingles vaccine is given in the back of the upper arm. Side effects of the shingles vaccine may include redness, soreness, swelling, or itching at the site of the injection. Less common side effects include headache.

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