Vaccines are a vital tool for mitigating illness from many infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and shingles.

The COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from becoming ill and lower your risk of serious illness or hospitalization.

For example, recent data from the United Kingdom has found that, compared to unvaccinated individuals, the risk of hospitalization with the Omicron variant is 65 percent and 81 percent lower in people who’ve had 2 doses and 3 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, respectively.

The shingles vaccine protects you from shingles and can also prevent postherpetic neuralgia, a common complication of shingles that can cause long-term pain. Compared to 2019, shingles vaccinations dropped by 89 percent early in the pandemic, although rates began climbing again later in 2020.

You may wonder how much time needs to pass between getting your shingles and COVID-19 vaccines. Keep reading as we explore the answer to this question and others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults ages 50 and older receive 2 doses of the shingles vaccine, Shingrix. The doses are separated by 2 to 6 months.

It’s important to get the shingles vaccine, even if you:

  • have had shingles previously — Shingrix can help prevent future occurrences
  • are unsure whether you’ve had chickenpox — most people in the United States have had chickenpox, even if they don’t remember being ill
  • received an older shingles vaccine called Zostavax, which is no longer available in the United States

Shingrix is highly effective at protecting you from shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. According to the CDC, Shingrix is 90 percent effective at preventing these conditions after 2 doses. This protection remains high for at least 4 years.

Who shouldn’t get the shingles vaccine?

You shouldn’t receive the shingles vaccine if:

Having a mild illness like a cold isn’t a reason to not get your shingles vaccine.

However, if you have a moderate to severe illness or a fever of 101.3 or higher, you should recover before getting your shingles vaccine.

The CDC guidelines state that the COVID-19 vaccine may be given without regard to the timing of other vaccines.

This means you don’t have to wait to receive your COVID-19 and shingles vaccinations.

In fact, you can get your COVID-19 vaccine and shingles vaccine at the same time. If you choose to do this, make sure to receive your injections at two different sites.

Most side effects of the shingles vaccine are mild and typically last only 2 to 3 days.

One of the most common side effects of the shingles vaccine is an injection site reaction. This can include redness, swelling, or soreness where you got your shot.

Other side effects can include:

The most common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include:

  • redness, swelling, or soreness where you got your shot
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • muscle aches and pains
  • nausea

Side effects felt throughout your body are typically more common after receiving the second and booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Like the shingles vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine side effects typically last only a couple of days.

When COVID-19 and flu circulate at the same time, it has the potential to cause many people to become ill and overburden the healthcare system. As such, it’s essential to receive both COVID-19 and flu vaccines.

It’s safe to receive your COVID-19 and flu vaccine at the same time.

Though we’re still learning more about giving the COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines, a November 2021 study found no safety concerns when the COVID-19 and flu vaccine were given at the same time. Also, participants produced expected antibody responses to both vaccines.

The CDC recommends that all people ages 6 months and older get a flu vaccine. The flu vaccine can help prevent illness and reduce the risk of serious flu-related complications in vulnerable individuals, such as:

It’s important to get the COVID-19 and shingles vaccines when you’re eligible. These vaccines can protect you from two illnesses that could potentially cause severe complications.

You don’t have to wait between getting the COVID-19 vaccine and others, such as the shingles or flu vaccines.

Your doctor can answer any questions or concerns you may have about the timing of your COVID-19 and shingles vaccinations.