Shingles is an infection that manifests as a painful rash. It’s caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, called the varicella-zoster virus.
But some people are reluctant to get vaccinated, particularly because of claims that the vaccine can cause ringing in the ears, known medically as tinnitus.
Keep reading to learn more about an alleged link between the shingles vaccine and tinnitus, as well as other side effects it may have.
Shingrix is a new shingles vaccine approved by the
Some people who received Zostavax claimed to have experienced severe side effects, including hearing loss and tinnitus. This resulted in lawsuits filed against its manufacturer, Merck. These lawsuits are still pending.
Unlike Zostavax, Shingrix doesn’t contain a live virus. Because of that, this vaccine is considered to be much safer. There is
Even before Zostavax was discontinued, CDC
- Shingrix provides stronger protection than Zostavax.
- Shingrix isn’t a live vaccine, so it can’t cause the virus to reactivate.
- Unlike Zostavax, Shingrix is safe for immunocompromised people to use.
- Shingrix provides a more durable immunity against shingles compared to Zostavax, according to a 2022 study.
But what if you already got Zostavax? Should you worry about tinnitus if you got the Zostavax vaccine before it was discontinued?
As with Shingrix, there is
If you were vaccinated with Zostavax before it was discontinued, it’s recommended you get Shingrix to protect yourself from the virus.
Although there is no scientific evidence that shingles vaccines can cause hearing loss or tinnitus, there are still some side effects that you should be aware of. Because Shingrix and Zostavax have different components, their potential side effects are different.
Side effects of Shingrix
Common side effects of Shingrix are:
- pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site
- muscle pain
- upset stomach
These side effects are usually mild or moderate. They typically go away after 2 to 3 days. These side effects are more common in younger people.
Warnings and precautions
In 2021, the FDA issued a
Who shouldn’t get Shingrix
Not everyone should get the shingles vaccine. Be sure to tell the pharmacist or healthcare professional administering the vaccine if you:
- have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any component of the vaccine
- experienced anaphylaxis after the first dose of Shingrix
- currently have shingles
- are pregnant or nursing
- have never had chickenpox
If you’ve tested negative for the varicella-zoster virus, you should get the chickenpox vaccine instead.
Side effects of Zostavax
Although this vaccine is no longer used, common side effects of Zostavax were:
- redness, pain, swelling, warmth, or itching at the injection site
If you notice any of the following symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, call emergency medical services or go to the nearest emergency room:
- hives or other rashes
- swelling of the mouth, tongue, lips, or face
- shortness of breath
- tightness in the chest
- fast heartbeat
If you have any other concerns, call your doctor.
If you or a family member experience severe side effects after vaccination, contact the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at 800-822-7967 or visit the VAERS website.
The vaccine that’s currently used against shingles, Shingrix, is considered to be safe and effective. It has some side effects, but they are usually mild to moderate and short-lived. There’s no scientific evidence that Shingrix causes tinnitus.
Zostavax, the shingles vaccine used previously and now discontinued, wasn’t as effective as Shingrix. In addition, some people claimed it caused hearing loss and tinnitus, which resulted in lawsuits against its manufacturer. These claims, however, are not supported by scientific evidence.