Shingles (herpes zoster) immunisation service

Shingles vaccines are given as a needle and are only available on their own (not as a combination vaccine). They can be provided by a variety of recognised immunisation providers. If you're eligible, you can get the shingles vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

Health professionals

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Why get immunised against shingles?

Shingles (also called herpes zoster) is the disease caused when the chickenpox virus reactivates. Shingles can cause severe pain that can last for months.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from serious disease caused by shingles.

By getting vaccinated against shingles, you can also help protect other people, especially people who are unable to be vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread.

When should you get immunised against shingles?

Anyone aged 60 years and over  who wants to protect themselves against shingles can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.

Shingles immunisation is recommended for:

  • adults aged 60 years and over who have not previously received zoster vaccine
  • adults aged 70 years to 79 years, for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
  • adults aged 50 or over who live in the same household as someone who has a weakened immune system.

Where can you get a shingles immunisation?

Shingles immunisations are available in each Australian state and territory.

See Where can I get immunised? for information.

How do you get immunised against shingles?

You can only get the shingles vaccine on its own, not as a combination vaccine. It is given as a needle.

Shingles vaccines include:

Note the Zostavax vaccine contains a small amount of the live virus. Some people may not be able to receive a live vaccine for medical reasons, please discuss with your doctor or immunisation provider for further information.

Do I need to pay for shingles immunisation?

Vaccines covered by the NIP are free for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family are eligible to receive.

Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider (for example, your doctor) may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.

If you are not eligible for free vaccine, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.

What are the possible side effects of shingles immunisation?

All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they’re not.

For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.

Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of shingles vaccines, or if you have possible side effects that worry you.

Common side effects of shingles vaccines include:

  • pain, redness, swelling or itching where the needle went in
  • headache
  • tiredness

Serious reactions to immunisation are rare. With Zostavax® vaccination, very rarely a generalised chickenpox-like rash may occur around 2–4 weeks after vaccination. This may be associated with fever and feeling unwell. This rash may be a sign of a serious reaction to the virus in the vaccine. Seek medical attention and inform of recent Zostavax vaccination if you experience this reaction. 

The Consumer Medicine Information links in How do you get immunised against shingles? list the side effects of each vaccine.

More information

Contacts

If you need advice or more information about immunisation, go to our Immunisation contacts page.

Last updated: 
17 August 2021
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