What is Shingrix®?
Shingrix® is a recently approved vaccination to prevent shingles. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends Shingrix® as the vaccination of choice for patients looking to get vaccinated against shingles.
In October of 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Shingrix® for patients 50 years of age and older who have already been exposed to the chickenpox virus to aid in preventing shingles.
What is Shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection that is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. It can cause extreme nerve pain, and most commonly shows up as a rash on the face or torso.
Shingles is generally managed with medications, known as antivirals, to help shorten the duration of the shingles rash. Pain medications can also be used to help with any symptoms of pain.
How is Shingrix® different from Zostavax®?
Both vaccines are approved for preventing shingles in patients who have previously been infected with chicken pox.
Zostavax® is a live vaccine (a weakened form of the virus given to help your immune system fight off the real virus) given directly underneath the skin, generally in the back of the arm, as a one-time dose. It is currently recommended in all patients 60 years of age and older.
Shingrix® is an inactive vaccine (a virus made in the lab that is similar to the real virus that helps your immune system) and requires 2 doses (given 2 to 6 months apart). The doses are generally given directly into the muscle in the arm, like the flu shot.
Both vaccinations can cause similar side effects such as pain/redness in the area the vaccine was given, muscle pain, fatigue, and headaches. These side effects are often mild, and only last for a few days following the vaccine.
Which vaccine should I get?
Before Shingrix®, Zostavax® was the only vaccination available for the prevention of shingles.
In clinical trials, Zostavax® vaccinations prevented a shingles outbreak in only 51.3% of patients who were aged 60 years of age and older. In patients between the ages of 50 to 59 years of age, Zostavax® prevented shingles 69.8% of patients; however, it prevented shingles in only 37.6% of patients above the age of 70 years old.
On the other hand, in clinical trials Shingrix® prevented shingles outbreaks in 97% of patients 50 years of age and older, and in 89.8% of the patients who were above the age of 70.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends Shingrix® as the vaccination of choice for patients looking to get vaccinated against shingles.
What if I previously received Zostavax®? Do I need to receive Shingrix®?
Yes. The CDC recommends the 2-dose Shingrix® series for all patients 50 years and older, even if you have already received Zostavax® for shingles prevention.
Will Shingrix® be covered by my insurance company?
Since Shingrix® is fairly new to the market, insurance companies may or may not cover the vaccination costs. According to the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline©, Shingrix® is covered by Medicare Part D (or Medicare prescription drug plans).
In order to see if Shingrix® is covered by your insurance and what your copay would be, please call your insurance company directly, or contact Sona Pharmacy at 828-298-3636.
Sona Pharmacy will have Shingrix® in stock shortly. If you have any questions, please feel free to stop by Sona, or give us a call at 828-298-3636!
Angelo Boss, PharmD Candidate and Tasha Michaels, PharmD, BCACP Director of Clinical Services
Cunningham A, LaI H, Kovac M, et al. Efficacy of the herpes zoster subunit vaccine in adults 70 years of age or older. N Engl J Med. 2016;375(11):1019-32.
Lal H, Cunningham A, Godeaux O, et al. Efficacy of an Adjuvanted Herpes Zoster Subunit Vaccine in Older Adults. N Engl J Med. 2015; 372:2087-96.
CDC. Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccination. cdc.gov/shingles/vaccination.html. Updated October 17, 2017. Accessed January 17,2018