Shingles Vaccine: Pros and Cons

Shingles Vaccine: Pros and Cons

Preventative vaccines constantly emerge touting more protection from various potential diseases. Some popular volunteer inoculations include: Flu, HPV (human papillomavirus), and chickenpox. Now, Big Pharma has the shingles vaccine in circulation and it is recommended for a large demographic. 

Shingles is a re-activation of the chickenpox virus which lies perpetually dormant in the system but the shingles outbreak is much more painful and severe. See if taking the shingles vaccine is for you with these pros and cons on how to navigate this most recent inoculation recommendation.  


Reduces Severity

As mentioned, shingles is a very painful skin outbreak derived from having chickenpox as a child. It often starts with tingling in the torso area, usually over the ribs, and then erupts into angry, sore pustules that eventually crust over and recede after about ten days. Outbreaks have also been reported on the face and head as well. The shingles vaccine has been shown to reduce the severity of outbreaks and, in some cases, prevent an outbreak altogether.

May Help PHN

After a shingles outbreak, nerve pain called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) could persist for months or longer after the rash has cleared up. Some people suffer with PHN for years and doctors say it is difficult to treat. According to the Immunization Action Coalition,

“Both zoster vaccines reduce the risk of PHN. In the pre-licensure trial ZVL was 67% effective in preventing PHN. RZV reduced the risk of PHN by 91%”

Could Help the Inevitable 

The incidence of shingles outbreaks in older adults increases with age. It is recommended to take the shingles vaccine for those over the age of sixty because, as reported by Harvard Health (HH), 

“Half of all people who live to 85 will get shingles.” 

Those in this demographic not vaccinated with the virus, reports HH, have a fifty-fifty percent chance of an outbreak while those treated have a seventy five-twenty to twenty-five chance. 

Avoid Opioid Use

Many times, doctors will prescribe highly addictive opioid painkillers for those suffering with shingles, particularly PNS. The shingles vaccine could reduce symptoms to such a manageable degree you may be able to avoid taking these dangerous drugs for pain that is only minimal. 

Ok for Immune Compromised 

The shingles vaccine has been improved so those who are immunocompromised (their immune system is not working well) can now receive it. In the past it would have been dangerous to receive the vaccine as it was a ‘live vaccine’ and could cause a chicken pox outbreak but the newer version is not a live formula and safer.


It Doesn’t Always Work

According to Harvard Health: 

“Not everyone builds strong immunity to shingles after being vaccinated. The older you are, the less likely it is that the vaccine will protect you. In those 50 to 59, the vaccine works 70% of the time. It drops to about half that in people 70 and older. On the other hand, the older you are, the more likely you are to develop shingles, so the potential benefit of vaccination is greater—if it works.”


The cost for receiving the vaccine could be high if your insurance does not cover it. Some offices will charge upwards of $100-$200 per vaccine and insurance may cover a percentage but it is not guaranteed. Medicare only covers the inoculation if you are under the Part D drug plan.

May Wear Off

As mentioned, the shingles vaccine started as a ‘live formula’ and, over time, developed into a non-live formula. It was then suggested that those who received the first vaccine re-up to the new one. Researchers are continually looking to improve vaccines for optimal benefits and, of course, the Big Pharma bottom line. Therefore, it is possible that if you get the current vaccine you may need a booster shot down the line. 

Possible Side Effects

Although most vaccines pose a risk of side effects after receiving the shot, the shingles vaccine may bring more discomfort than other inoculations. Baseline of Health Foundation reported that: 

“…serious side effects included significant muscle pain, fatigue, headaches, shivering, gastrointestinal problems and fever, with more than half the younger recipients reporting the muscle aches and fatigue and over a third experiencing headaches and shivering after the injection.”

You Could Develop Shingles

There is always collateral damage when administering an inoculation on a grand scale. Some of this damage is developing the disease you are trying to prevent after receiving a vaccination. Baseline also reported that: 

“Over 5000 people are suing Merck because the Zostavax vaccine gave them Shingles instead of protecting them from it, and thousands more lawsuits are pending. In its first nine years on the market, Zostavax caused 36 deaths and 1111 serious injuries. It doesn’t help that even when the vaccine is effective in preventing Shingles, that protection only lasts about four years and then the patient needs a new vaccination. In spite of these difficulties, sales of Zostavax reached $749 million in 2015 alone.” 

However, the newer vaccines could alleviate this risk but the numbers are not reported yet to determine this.

Talk to your physician or naturopathic doctor about receiving the shingles vaccine. These pros and cons should give you a clearer picture of what you may experience. Overall, it is essential to maintain a strong immune system and stress-free lifestyle (two major factors in development) to avoid a shingles outbreak. By following a mostly plant-based diet, avoiding refined, processed foods and adhering to a good exercise program you ,ay be able to naturally stop shingles from developing. Add in some good daily supplements and a self or group meditation program and you could remain golden. Also, if you never had chickenpox as a child you may not develop shingles and therefore not need the vaccine.