Herpes Zoster Vaccines Explained


APhA poster breaks down differences between shingles vaccines down in chart form.

Just in time to deal with the availability of two different shingles vaccines on the American market, APhA has issued a handy reference sheet for pharmacists and other immunization providers. The herpes zoster vaccines one-page sheet offers convenient, comprehensive, and up-to-date information about Shingrix and Zostavax, including recommendations for their use from the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

“As with anything new, and with busy practitioners, it takes time for the information to be implemented into practice. And we try to assimilate the information for our members,” Mitchel C. Rothholz, RPh, MBA, Chief Strategy Officer, APhA tells Drug Topics.


downloadable chart

offers easy-to-compare product information and current recommendations from the CDC and FDA for both vaccines. Side-by-side categories list vaccine type, route of administration and dose intervals, age-of-patient recommendations, storage information, contraindications, side effects, and guidelines for concomitant administration of other vaccines. The resource can help pharmacists and patients make the most informed decision possible when it comes to protection against shingles.

Zostavax (Merck) was the first shingles vaccine to reach the American market, licensed by the FDA in 2006. The CDC recommends the single shot, live attenuated vaccine for healthy adults 60 years old and older for the prevention of shingles and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). (FDA licensure is for people aged 50 and older.) Zostavax’s protection lasts about five years, and it has been shown to reduce the risk of developing shingles by 51% and PHN by 67%.

Shingrix (GSK), a recombinant adjuvanted vaccine delivered in two doses, received FDA approval in 2017 for use in healthy adults aged 50 years and older. ACIP gave a preferred recommendation to Shingrix over Zostavax for the prevention of shingles and related complications. In clinical trials, Shingrix was more than 90% effective against shingles and reduced the overall incidence of PHN by 86%. Its efficacy was sustained over a four-year period. It can be administered to patients who have been vaccinated with Zostavax following a minimal interval of 8 weeks.

Rothholz reminds healthcare providers that “practice changes based on available evidence and new products. It’s important to keep up with changing immunization guidelines.” By presenting all the facts about the two shingles vaccines, the APhA zoster vaccines chart makes staying current much easier for pharmacists. To access and download the chart, visit



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