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Shingles vaccine

General notice


See the Shingles vaccination program page to learn more about free vaccination and to book an appointment.


Vaccination is the best protection against shingles and its complications. Shingles is a disease that appears only 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.

Since May 1, 2023, the inactivated vaccine is free of charge to people aged 80 years and older as well as for people aged 18 years and older who are immunocompromised.

General notice

This vaccine is also recommended for people aged 50 to 79 years old, although it is not free for them.

The inactivated vaccine is made from pieces of the virus. It is 90% effective in preventing shingles. Its effectiveness is not reduced with age. However, if the disease develops in a person who has already been vaccinated, the risk of neuralgia, which is pain that lasts for several months after the lesions have disappeared, is reduced by 90%. The protection offered by this vaccine lasts at least 10 years after vaccination. Two doses, administered 2 to 12 months apart, are needed to ensure long-term protection.


Some symptoms may be caused by the vaccine, for example redness at the injection site. Other problems may occur by chance and are not related to the vaccine, for example a cold, gastroenteritis or a headache.

Shingles vaccine is safe.

Most reactions are benign and short-lived.

In 17% of cases, the reactions caused by the vaccine prevent the person from going about their daily activities for 1 to 2 days. These reactions, which are less common in older people, occur a little more frequently when the 2nd dose is given

The nature and frequency of possible reactions to the vaccine
FrequencyPossible reactions to the vaccine

Very often
(less than 50% of people)

  • Pain at the injection site

(less than 10% of people)

  • Redness and swelling at the injection site
  • Fatigue, headache, muscle soreness, fever or shivering
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache
  • Reactions prevent normal everyday activity

What to do after vaccination

Tips to follow immediately following vaccination

Wait 15 minutes before leaving premises where vaccine is received. If an allergic reaction occurs, the symptoms will appear a few minutes after the vaccination.

If you feel side effects, immediately inform the person giving the vaccine. That person will be able to treat you immediately.

Tips to follow at home

If you experience redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, apply a cold, damp compress on it.

Use medication for fever or discomfort if needed.

When to seek medical help

See a doctor if one of the following applies to you:

  • You experience serious and unusual symptoms
  • Your symptoms get worse instead of improving
  • Your symptoms last over 48 hours

Last update: May 1, 2023


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