Skip to main content

Zoster vaccine (inactivated)

Generic name: zoster vaccine (inactivated) [ ZOS-ter-VAX-een ]
Brand name: Shingrix
Dosage form: intramuscular powder for injection (adjuvanted)
Drug class: Viral vaccines

Medically reviewed by on Jan 11, 2022. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is inactivated zoster vaccine?

Herpes zoster is caused by the same virus (varicella) that causes chickenpox in children. When this virus becomes active again, it can cause herpes zoster, or shingles. Inactivated zoster vaccine helps prevent shingles.

This vaccine works by exposing you to a small dose of inactive virus, which causes the body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

Inactivated zoster vaccine is used to prevent herpes zoster virus (shingles):

  • in people age 50 and older, including people who previously received a live zoster vaccine (Zostavax); and

  • in people 18 years and older at increased risk of herpes zoster virus (shingles) due to a weak immune system.

Inactivated zoster vaccine will not treat chickenpox, shingles, or nerve pain caused by shingles (post-herpetic neuralgia).

Inactivated zoster vaccine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.


You should not receive the second shot if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Before taking this medicine

You should not receive this vaccine if you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to inactivated zoster virus vaccine.

Tell your doctor if:

  • you have ever had an allergic reaction to any vaccine; or

  • you have fainted after receiving an injection.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How is this vaccine given?

Inactivated zoster vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

This vaccine is usually given in a series of 2 shots:

  • the second shot may be given any time within 2 to 6 months after the first shot.

  • for people who have a weak immune system, the second shot may be given any time within 1 to 2 months after the first shot.

You may receive this vaccine at the same time that you get a flu shot.

Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor if you miss the second dose or if you get behind schedule. You must receive all recommended doses of this vaccine to be fully protected against disease.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid after receiving this vaccine?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

This vaccine side effects

You should not receive the second shot if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving inactivated zoster vaccine. When you receive the second shot, tell the doctor if the first shot caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with shingles is much more dangerous to your health than receiving the vaccine to protect against it. Like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects, but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Some people receiving this vaccine had nervous system problems within 42 days after receiving this vaccine, but the risk of this side effect is very low. Seek medical attention right away if you have:

  • weakness or tingling;

  • trouble speaking or swallowing;

  • problems with balance or eye movement; or

  • loss of bladder or bowel control.

Call your doctor at once if you have a high fever.

Common side effects include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.

Zoster vaccine dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Varicella-Zoster -- Prophylaxis:

0.5 mL intramuscularly
-Administer two doses, with the second dose given 2 to 6 months after the first dose

-This drug is not indicated for prevention of primary varicella infection (chickenpox).

Uses: Prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) in:
-Adults aged 50 years and older
-Adults aged 18 years and older at increased risk of herpes zoster (HZ) due to immunodeficiency or immunosuppression from disease or therapy

What other drugs will affect inactivated zoster vaccine?

Other drugs may affect inactivated zoster vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.