Shingrix (recombinant varicella zoster virus) is a prescription vaccine used to help prevent herpes zoster, which is also called shingles. Shingrix can cause side effects that range from mild to serious. Examples include pain at the vaccine site and muscle pain.

Shingrix is used to prevent shingles in adults who are:

  • ages 50 years and older
  • ages 18 years and older with a higher risk of shingles due to having a medical condition or taking medication that suppresses the immune system

The active ingredient* in Shingrix is recombinant varicella zoster virus, which is a biologic medication.

Shingrix comes as a liquid suspension that a healthcare professional will give you as an injection into a muscle. It’s usually injected in the upper, outer side of an arm.

Keep reading to learn about common, mild, and serious side effects that Shingrix can cause. For a general overview of the drug, including details about its uses, see this article.

Side effects won’t happen to everyone, but some people may experience mild to serious side effects during their Shingrix treatment. Examples of this vaccine’s commonly reported side effects include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

Mild side effects are common with Shingrix. Mild side effects that have been reported in the vaccine’s studies include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

In most cases, these side effects should be temporary. And some may be easily managed. But if you have symptoms that are ongoing or bother you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Unless your doctor recommends that you not receive a second one, you’ll need two doses of Shingrix. These are given a few months apart.

Shingrix may cause mild side effects other than those listed above. See the drug’s prescribing information for details.

While rare, serious side effects have been reported with Shingrix. These include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

If you develop serious side effects from Shingrix, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Shingrix, visit MedWatch.

Get answers to some frequently asked questions about side effects of Shingrix.

Are side effects of the second dose of Shingrix similar to those seen with the first dose?

Side effects of the second dose of Shingrix are similar to those seen with the first dose. But some side effects may be more common with the second dose.

For example, in Shingrix studies, the following side effects were reported more frequently following the second dose than the first:

People may have different experiences with the first and second doses of Shingrix. If you’re concerned about side effects with the second dose, talk with your doctor.

How soon do side effects start after receiving the Shingrix vaccine?

Side effects can start as soon as you receive your dose. While they won’t happen to everyone, pain, discoloration, and swelling at the injection site can appear right away. But these are short-term side effects that usually last 2 or 3 days.

Some side effects may occur later. In Shingrix studies, the following side effects were reported up to 30 days after the dose:

If you’re concerned about how soon side effects can start with Shingrix, talk with your doctor. They can help you prepare for immediate side effects and manage any that happen later.

Can side effects of Shingrix last longer than a week?

Yes, some side effects of Shingrix can last longer than a week, but most usually last about 2 to 3 days. If you’re concerned about side effects lasting longer than a week, talk with your doctor.

Learn more about some of the side effects Shingrix may cause.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a very rare side effect of some vaccinations including Shingrix. With GBS, your immune system attacks your peripheral nervous system. (These are nerves that branch out of the brain and spinal cord.)

In Shingrix studies, people have developed GBS up to 42 days after receiving the vaccine. Symptoms of GBS include mild weakness to severe paralysis that affects your ability to breathe on your own.

Doctors cannot predict who will have GBS after a vaccine. Having had GBS in the past doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have it again with the Shingrix vaccine. And if you have GBS with your first dose of Shingrix, you can still receive your second dose.

What might help

If you experience weakness after receiving Shingrix, talk with your doctor. Most people recover from GBS, even severe forms of the disease. Still, GBS can become life threatening. If you’ve had GBS in the past, tell your doctor. They may still recommend the vaccine but can discuss any concerns you may have.

Muscle pain

People may have muscle pain where they receive their vaccine. This is a local side effect. But another common side effect is myalgia, which is general muscle pain. In Shingrix studies, this side effect was usually mild.

What might help

If you’re concerned about muscle pain and how long it will last after receiving Shingrix, talk with your doctor. They may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen). Their recommendation for which pain reliever is best for you depends on your other medical conditions and any other medications you’re taking.

Having muscle pain from your first dose doesn’t predict whether you’ll have muscle pain after your second dose. Before receiving your second dose, ask your doctor what you can do to prevent muscle pain. For example, they may recommend taking a pain reliever before you receive the vaccine to help manage myalgia.


Some people faint when they receive a vaccination, including the Shingrix vaccine. Right before fainting, some people experience trouble seeing, seizure-like movements of the arms or legs, and burning or stinging of the skin.

What might help

Tell your doctor if you have a history of fainting after receiving a vaccination. Your doctor will tell you whether the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the possible side effects. If you still need to receive Shingrix, your doctor will make sure procedures are in place to prevent an injury from fainting.

Allergic reaction

Like most drugs, Shingrix can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Symptoms can be mild to serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin, usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What might help

If you have mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may suggest a treatment to manage your symptoms. Examples include:

  • an antihistamine you swallow, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
  • a product you apply to your skin, such as hydrocortisone cream

If your doctor confirms you’ve had a mild allergic reaction to Shingrix, they’ll decide whether you should receive your second dose.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your doctor confirms you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to Shingrix, you may need to skip your second dose.

Keeping track of side effects

When receiving your Shingrix vaccine and in the days following, consider taking notes on any side effects you’re having. You can then share this information with your doctor.

Your side effect notes can include things such as:

  • which dose you received (the first or second injection)
  • how soon you had the side effect after receiving the injection
  • what your symptoms were
  • how your symptoms affected your daily activities
  • what other medications you were taking
  • any other information you feel is important

Keeping notes and sharing them with your doctor will help them learn more about how Shingrix affects you. They can then use this information to adjust your vaccination schedule if needed.

Shingrix may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions. This is known as a drug-condition interaction. Other factors may also affect whether this vaccine is a good option for you. Talk with your doctor about your health history before each Shingrix injection. Factors to consider include those described below.

History of reaction to vaccines. If you’ve had a reaction to a vaccine in the past, such as fainting, tell your doctor before receiving the Shingrix vaccine. They’ll tell you whether Shingrix is safe for you. If you’ve fainted before with a vaccine, your doctor will make sure you’re in a safe environment when you receive Shingrix.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Shingrix or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe it for you.

Alcohol and Shingrix

Some drugs interfere with alcohol, but the Shingrix vaccine isn’t one of them. If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor whether it’s safe to drink any before or after receiving a dose of Shingrix.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Shingrix

It isn’t clear whether Shingrix is safe during pregnancy because there isn’t enough information. Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant when you receive your Shingrix vaccines.

It’s also not known whether Shingrix passes through breast milk. Tell your doctor if you’re breastfeeding or will be breastfeeding when you receive your Shingrix vaccines. They can help you determine whether the benefits of breastfeeding your child outweigh the possible risks.

Local side effects with Shingrix are common but temporary. Long-term and serious side effects are rare. If you have questions about side effects that Shingrix can cause, talk with your doctor. Examples of questions to help get you started include:

  • How do the side effects of the first dose of Shingrix compare with those of the second dose?
  • Will side effects of Shingrix be worse if I’ve already had shingles?
  • Is chicken pox a side effect of Shingrix?

To learn more about Shingrix, see these articles:

To get information on different conditions and tips for improving your health, subscribe to any of Healthline’s newsletters. You may also want to check out the online communities at Bezzy. It’s a place where people with certain conditions can find support and connect with others.

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.