What is the shingles vaccine?
The shingles vaccine protects against a virus that causes shingles infection.
Vaccines can provide protection against a single disease, or can be made to provide protection against more than one disease. Vaccines that provide protection against more than one disease are called combined vaccines.
The shingles vaccine is only available in single vaccine format.
Vaccines commonly used:
Who should get the shingles vaccine?
In general, anyone over 50 years of age should get this vaccine.
Who should not get the shingles vaccine?
- People who have had serious allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine or to a previous dose of the vaccine itself should not receive the Zostavax vaccine.
- Anyone who has a disease (for example, HIV or cancer) or is on medication (for example, prednisone) that lowers their body’s ability to fight infections should also not receive the vaccine.
- Anyone with active, untreated tuberculosis, should not receive the Zostavax vaccine.
- Women should not be vaccinated with this vaccine while they are pregnant. It is recommended that women avoid pregnancy for at least four weeks after getting the Zostavax vaccine.
Your health care provider will ask you questions about your health before giving you any vaccine. This will help them identify allergies you might have and safely manage potential allergic reactions.
What are the possible side effects of the shingles vaccine?
You could have mild side effects after being vaccinated, but they usually go away in one to two days. Some people can be allergic to the vaccine, just like they might have a food or medication allergy.
Learn more about special considerations before being vaccinated.
If a rash develops from the vaccine, cover the rash wherever possible. If the rash cannot be covered, avoid close contact with:
- pregnant women who have not had chicken pox
- newborns whose mothers have not had chicken pox
- people who are very sick or have a weak immune system
Talk to your health care provider about getting vaccinated if you have special health conditions or concerns. Learn more about common vaccine side effects and what to do about them.
Is the shingles vaccine required to attend school, daycare or to work in certain settings?
No. Children don’t have to be immunized against this disease to attend school or a licensed day care in Ontario (Immunization of School Pupils Act, Child Care and Early Years Act). However, this vaccine may be required in certain workplaces.
Access and update your immunization records.
Is there a cost for the shingles vaccine?
The Zostavax vaccine is free for anyone who is 65 to 70 years of age.
There is a cost for the Shingrix vaccine.
If you don’t qualify for the free shingles vaccine, you can still get vaccinated with a prescription from your family doctor or other primary care provider, but you have to pay for it yourself. You would bring your prescription to the pharmacy and buy the vaccine and then bring it back to your health care provider to get the shot.
Where can you get the shingles vaccine?
- Public Health offers this vaccine at one of our immunization clinics.
- You may also be able to get vaccinated at your doctor’s office, a walk-in clinic or community health centre. Appointments may be required.
For more information:
- Contact us.
- See our frequently asked questions or send us your question.
- See our list of helpful websites for information about vaccination
- Get free shingles vaccine (Government of Ontario)