Just like any conventional medicines there is always a risk of severe allergic reaction but it is very rare for a vaccine. If you do experienced severe allergic reaction, you should check back with your doctor. As of CDC’s latest report, there are no serious problems recorded coming from the use of the shingle vaccine. But there are minor complication listed below.
– Itching, redness or soreness where it was injected – 33% probability
– Headache – 1.42% probability
For more information you can check the shingles vaccine information sheet of CDC.
It turned out that this vaccine was released 2 years before my mom had her first breakout of shingles. Unfortunately it was not available here in the Philippines. The vaccine Zostavax was released to the public in 2006. Unlike other vaccines (e.g. hepatitis, chickenpox, mumps, measles etc), this shingles vaccine has a much lower efficacy rate of only 50 percent. Meaning you have a 50-50 chance of still getting shingles. But once you get vaccinated, even if you still get shingles, the pain and duration are reduced compared to people who doesn’t have it.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also note that the vaccine is not designed to treat active shingles or postherpetic neuralgia (the pain caused by damaged nerves after the rash is gone) once you already have it.
The CDC recommends that people who are 60 years old and above should take the shingles vaccine even if they don’t recall that they had chickenpox. Because based on their statistics, around 99% of Americans who are 40 years old and above have had chickenpox. Sometimes people forget or just didn’t realize that they had it.
Now, before you decide to get a shot of the vaccine, take time to review the said information sheet. Particularly to the possible side effects and then check if you belong to the list of people who should NOT get the vaccine. I wont mention the details but basically, people who have low immune system should not take the vaccine (e.g. people who have AIDS, Cancer patients that just went through chemo, leukemia, a pregnant woman etc.)
In my opinion, the vaccine is relatively still new. There is still an ongoing study to check how long the vaccine remains effective. Currently they are saying that it is good for around 6 years.
So how much is the shingles vaccine cost? It varies, but based on what I have found it is around $200 to $250, including the administration fee, consultation fee etc. You need to check your health insurance on how much they will cover.