Shingles is a painful, blistering rash that usually happens on one side of the body. It is a reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.
The shingles disease can have serious and painful complications.
It is estimated that 1 in 3 people will develop shingles in their lifetime.
What is shingles vaccine?
The Zostavax® vaccine protects against the shingles disease.
Who should have the vaccine?
As a person gets older, the risk of getting shingles and neurological complications increases.
Research shows that people aged 70-79 are the age group at greatest risk of developing a serious, painful complication from shingles known as post herpetic neuralgia (PHN), where the person experiences pain in the area affected by shingles for a long period, sometimes months.
The shingles vaccine, Zostavax®, is effective in reducing the chances of getting PHN in this age group.
Who is the vaccine provided free for?
From 1 November 2016 people aged 70 years are eligible for a free shingles vaccine.
Those aged 71-79 can also get the vaccine for free until 31 October 2021.
What are the risks?
The shingles vaccine is safe for most people aged 70-79 years of age, including people with chronic diseases.
Certain people may be unable to have the vaccine, including those with a very weakened immune system. Talk to your GP or immunisation provider for advice.
What are the common side effects?
The most common side effects occur around the injection site, including redness, swelling and/or pain.
Sometimes, headache, itching or a rash around the injection site may also occur.
How is the vaccine given?
The shingles vaccine is currently delivered as a single dose.
Where to get help
- See your doctor
- Visit a GP after hours
- Phone healthdirect on 1800 022 222
- Phone the Immunise Australia Hotline on 1800 671 811
For more information on the national shingles program, visit the Australian Department of Health website (external site).
- Shingles is a painful, blistering rash.
- The risk of getting shingles and neurological complications increases with age.
- Zostavax® vaccine is available for people aged 70 years, and those aged 71-79 years until 31 October 2021.
This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.