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Shingles vaccination

Making an appointment to get vaccinated

People aged 80 and over as well as immunocompromised people aged 18 and over can get vaccinated against shingles free of charge.

Make an appointment

If you are unable to make an appointment online, you can call 1‑877‑644‑4545 (Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

People aged 50 to 79 can also get the vaccine to reduce their risk of developing the disease. However, they must pay for it and fees may vary. For complete details, they must contact their medical clinic or pharmacy.

You cannot be reimbursed for the shingles vaccine.

For people aged 80 years and over as well as immunocompromised people aged 18 years and over, the shingles vaccine is given in two doses.

Benefits of vaccination

Vaccination is the best protection against shingles and its complications. Shingles is a disease that appears in people who have already had chickenpox. It is characterized by painful skin lesions, often in the form of blisters, on one part of the body.

Up to one in three people will have an episode of shingles in their lifetime. Neuralgia is the most common complication. It refers to pain that can be felt for several months or even years along the path of the affected nerve. The risk of neuralgia increases with age and in a person with a weakened immune system.

In Quebec, approximately 27,000 cases of shingles are reported each year as well as 600 hospitalizations and 10 deaths caused by the disease.

Vaccination reduces the risk of developing shingles, but also the risk of neuralgia following an episode.

Shingles vaccine

The shingles vaccine is an inactivated vaccine made from pieces of virus. It is 90% effective in preventing shingles. Effectiveness is not reduced with age. However, if the disease develops in a person who has already been vaccinated, the risk of neuralgia, that is, pain that lasts for several months after the lesions have cleared up, is reduced by 90%. The vaccine is believed to provide protection for at least 10 years after vaccination. Two doses, given 2 to 12 months apart, are needed to ensure long‑term protection.

Symptoms after vaccination

The vaccine may cause symptoms such as redness at the injection site. Other problems may arise by chance and are unrelated to the vaccine, such as a cold, gastroenteritis or a headache.

The shingles vaccine is safe.

Most reactions are mild and short‑lived.

In 17% of cases, the reactions caused by the vaccine prevent the person from going about their daily activities for one or two days. These reactions, which are less common in older adults, occur a little more often when the second dose is given.

Nature and frequency of possible reactions to the vaccine
FrequencyPossible reactions to the vaccine

In most cases
(more than 50% of people)

  • Pain at the injection site

Very often
(less than 50% of people)

  • Redness or swelling at the injection site
  • Muscle pain, fatigue, headache, fever or chills
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or stomach ache
  • Reactions that prevent daily activities

What to do after vaccination

Advice to follow immediately after vaccination

Wait 15 minutes before leaving the place where you were given the vaccine. If an allergic reaction occurs, the symptoms will appear a few minutes after vaccination.

If you experience symptoms, tell the person who gave you the vaccine immediately. They can treat you there.

Advice to follow at home

If you develop redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, apply a cold, wet compress.

If necessary, take pain or fever medication.

When to consult

Consult a doctor if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have serious or unusual symptoms.
  • Your symptoms get worse instead of better.
  • Your symptoms last more than 48 hours.

Last update: December 6, 2023


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