How Do Herpes Zoster Vaccines Compare?

Shringrix and Zostervax both protect people from shingles

Every immunization provider and patient should understand the key differences between the two herpes zoster vaccines, says the American Pharmacist Association (APhA). 

In 2006, the live attenuated vaccine, Zostavax, was approved by the FDA to prevent herpes zoster in individuals over 65 years old.

And, during October 2017, the FDA approved Shingrix (Zoster Vaccine Recombinant, Adjuvanted) for the prevention of herpes zoster in adults aged 50 years and older.

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To better facilitate this product comparison, the APhA developed a one-page reference for everyone’s review.

The goal of this reference document is to empower more informed immunization decisions when comparing Shringrix and Zostavax vaccines.

“It’s important to keep up with changing immunization guidelines,” said APhA Chief Strategy Officer Mitchel C. Rothholz, RPh, MBA.

“Practice changes based on available evidence and new products. APhA’s resources help you stay on the cutting edge with current recommendations and new product introduction.”

This APhA document provides information at a glance about:

  • storage (freezer vs. refrigerator),
  • vaccine type,
  • route of administration (I.M. vs. subcutaneous),
  • dosing intervals,
  • age of patient recommended to receive the vaccine,
  • contraindications, adverse effects, and concomitant administration.

Millions of seniors are at risk of contracting herpes zoster, commonly known as Shingles, which occurs when the virus that causes chickenpox is reactivated.

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The incidence of herpes zoster rises dramatically for people over 50 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC).

A recent study reported a vaccine was 74 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations for shingles.

"Offering up to date vaccine recommendations to patients is one of the advantages we enjoy as community pharmacists. We often interact with patients on a weekly basis, which puts us in a prime position to get new information in their hands much faster than a bi-annual or annual physician visit,” said Soni Bozeman, Pharm.D. Clinical Pharmacist, Brookshires Grocery Company.

“Our Brookshire's pharmacists are prepared and excited to offer Shingrix to a broader patient population as superior protection against the debilitating shingles outbreak that has affected so many as they age," says Bozeman.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides current vaccine information.

Vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.

For more information, APhA members can sign up at no charge for the Immunizing Pharmacists News Mailing List and ACIP Immunization Update webinars.