Health > The Best Guide to Shingles Vaccine in India
12th Mar 2024
Shingles Vaccine

The Best Guide to Shingles Vaccine in India

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant (inactive state) in the body. Years later, it can reactivate as shingles. According to estimates, about 1 out of 3 people in India will develop shingles during their lifetime. In India, around 156 million individuals over the age of 50 are at risk for shingles each year.

Shingles usually appear as a painful rash with fluid-filled blisters on one side of the face or body. The rash typically clears up within 2 to 4 weeks. However, some people may continue to experience pain for months or even years after the rash heals. This condition is known as postherpetic neuralgia. 

Shingles Vaccine in India 

Currently, there are two shingles vaccines approved for use in India: 

  • Zostavax: This is a live attenuated vaccine manufactured by Merck. It was approved in India in 2006 for use in adults 50 years and older. 
  • Shingrix: This is a recombinant vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. It was approved in India in 2020 for use in adults 50 years and older. 

Shingrix is the preferred vaccine because studies have shown it to be over 90% effective at preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Zostavax is only about 51% effective. 

Who Should Get the Shingles Vaccine in India? 

India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recommends the shingles vaccine for individuals 50 years and older, including those who: 

  • Have already had shingles 
  • Have had chickenpox 
  • Are unsure if they had chickenpox 
  • Are receiving immunosuppressive therapy 

The vaccine is also recommended for individuals with the following conditions: 

  • Cancer 
  • History of organ transplant 
  • Autoimmune disorders (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, lupus) 

Pregnant women should avoid getting the shingles vaccine. Individuals with minor acute illnesses, such as a cold, may still get vaccinated. 

When to Get the Shingles Vaccine 

The shingles vaccine is given as a 2-dose series: 

  • Shingrix: 0 and 2-6 months 
  • Zostavax: Single dose 

Adults 50 years and older should get vaccinated even if they don’t remember having chickenpox. There is no maximum age limit for getting vaccinated. However, the vaccine may be less effective in older adults due to weakened immunity. 

Studies show that protection from shingles vaccination lasts about 5 years. However, experts don’t know yet if revaccination later in life provides added benefits. 

Where to Get the Shingles Vaccine in India 

The shingles vaccine is available at: 

  • Public health centers 
  • Private clinics and hospitals 
  • Select pharmacies and vaccination camps 

When calling to make a vaccination appointment, check that your healthcare provider has the shingles vaccine in stock. Both Shingrix and Zostavax require refrigerated storage between 2°C and 8°C. 

Some health insurance plans in India may cover some or all of the cost of vaccination. However, many individuals still pay out-of-pocket. The shingles vaccine typically costs between Rs. 3,500 – Rs. 5,000 per dose. 

Also Read: 9 Myths and Facts About COVID-19 Vaccine You Should Know

Is the Shingles Vaccine Safe? 

Yes, the shingles vaccines are generally safe and effective. The most common side effects are redness, pain, swelling, itching, and bruising at the injection site. Some people may also experience headaches, fever, stomach pain, or shivering. These side effects are usually mild and go away within 2-3 days on their own. 

As with any vaccine, severe allergic reactions are possible but very rare (less than 2 cases per million doses). Tell your healthcare provider if you have any allergies before getting vaccinated. 

Overall, the benefits of shingles vaccination far outweigh any potential risks. Getting vaccinated can prevent the debilitating pain and complications of shingles. 

Shingles Vaccination in India: Key Takeaways 

  • Shingles is a painful rash affecting 1 in 3 adults, caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. 
  • Two vaccines are approved in India: Zostavax and Shingrix (preferred). 
  • The vaccine is recommended for adults 50+ years, including those with weakened immunity. 
  • Shingles vaccination requires 2 doses given 2-6 months apart. 
  • The vaccine is available at public health centers, private clinics, some pharmacies and camps. 
  • Side effects are generally mild like redness and pain at injection site. 
  • Vaccination can prevent the severe pain and complications of shingles. 

Don’t wait – speak to your doctor about getting vaccinated against shingles today. Protect yourself against this agonizing illness. 

Empower Yourself Against Shingles 

Shingles can have a devastating impact on quality of life. At Emoha Eldercare, we understand the challenges aging can bring. Our membership programs are designed to empower seniors to live more joyful, meaningful, and independent lives. With customized care plans, 24×7 access to curated health services, and trusted elderly companionship – we enhance the physical, mental, and psychosocial wellbeing of elders. 

Learn more about our Elder Care plans or call toll-free 1800-203-5135 to schedule a free in-home assessment. Our care managers can assess your health needs and risks, recommend appropriate vaccination and disease prevention steps, and develop a tailored care plan that provides security, comfort and dignity. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Who should not get the shingles vaccine? 

Individuals should not get the Shingles vaccine if they have had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or if they are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider for personal advice.  

Can you get shingles more than once? 

Yes, it is possible to get shingles more than once, though rare. Even after vaccination, a small percentage of people may still get shingles from a new mutation of the virus. But the vaccine helps reduce the severity and duration. 

Is the shingles vaccine a live vaccine? 

Zostavax is a live attenuated vaccine, meaning it contains a weakened version of the live virus. Shingrix is not a live vaccine – it contains purified viral proteins and cannot cause shingles. 

Are there any vaccine shortages in India? 

Currently there are no reported shortages of the shingles vaccines in India. However, supply constraints are possible, so call ahead to confirm availability. The vaccines require refrigerated storage and transportation. 

How much does the vaccine cost in India? 

The shingles vaccine costs approximately Rs. 10,000- Rs. 12,000 per dose in India. Some health insurance plans may cover some or all of the cost. However, many individuals still pay out-of-pocket. The price at public health facilities may be lower.