Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine

Information about shingles vaccines, who it is recommended for, how and where to get vaccinated. If you're eligible, you can get the shingles vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program.

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.

Who should get vaccinated against shingles

Anyone who wants to protect themselves against shingles can talk to their vaccination provider about getting vaccinated.

The Australian Immunisation Handbook recommends shingles vaccination for specific groups including:

  • adults aged 60 years and over
  • adults aged 50 years and over who live in the same household as someone who has a weakened immune system.

Shingles vaccination with the Zostavax vaccine is free under the National Immunisation Program for immunocompetent adults aged 70 years.  Catch-up vaccination is also available for adults aged 71 to 79 years until 31 October 2023.

Zostavax vaccine should not be given to:

  • people who have had anaphylaxis after a previous dose of any live varicella-zoster vaccine or anaphylaxis after any component of a Zostavax vaccine
  • people with current or recent severe immunocompromise
  • pregnant women.

Zostavax vaccine contains a small amount of the live virus. Some people may not be able to receive a live vaccine for medical reasons. Discuss with your vaccination provider whether this vaccine is appropriate for you.

Read more about Getting vaccinated.

How to get vaccinated against shingles

Shingles vaccines come as a single vaccine, not as a combination vaccine.

Shingles vaccines include:

*Indicates National Immunisation Program vaccine.

Find product information and consumer medicine information for each available vaccine from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Where to get vaccinated

You can get your vaccine from a range of vaccination providers. Find out where and more about your vaccination visit at getting vaccinated.

Possible side effects of shingles vaccination

You may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most reactions are mild and last no more than a couple of days and you will recover without any problems.

Common side effects of shingles vaccines include:

  • pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • occasionally, an injection-site lump (may last many weeks -no treatment needed)
  • fever
  • rash 5–26 days after vaccination, usually at injection site, occasionally elsewhere.

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

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

The Consumer Medicine Information available on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website lists the ingredients and side effects of each vaccine.

Learn more about the possible side effects of vaccination.

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