On this page

What is shingles?

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful blistering rash. It is caused by reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox. While most symptoms last up to 3 weeks, shingles can be serious. It can lead to long-term nerve pain that can last for months (post-heretic neuralgia or PHN) and other serious complications, including pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness and swelling of the brain.

About 1 in 3 people will get shingles in their lifetime. Shingles usually affects older people, and the risk of complications increases with age, particularly for those over the age of 70. People who are immunocompromised are at higher risk of shingles and severe complications.

For more information refer to Chickenpox and shingles.

What is changing?

From 1 November 2023 a new recombinant zoster (shingles) vaccine Shingrix® will be added to the National Immunisation Program (NIP) replacing Zostavax®.

What is the Shingrix vaccine used for?

Shingrix® is a non-live vaccine which is highly effective in the prevention of herpes zoster, commonly known as Shingles, and its complications. As it is a non-live vaccine it can be used in immunocompromised people.

Who is eligible to receive free Shingrix vaccine?

Shingrix® will be available to the following eligible Australians under the National Immunisation Program:

  • adults aged 65 years and over
  • First Nations people aged 50 years and over
  • immunocompromised people aged 18 years and over with the following medical conditions:
    • haemopoietic stem cell transplant
    • solid organ transplant
    • haematological malignancy
    • advanced or untreated HIV

Will Zostavax still be available on the National Immunisation Program schedule?

No. There is no other replacement vaccine for Shingrix® on the NIP schedule

How many doses of Shingrix are recommended?

Shingrix® is recommended as a 2 dose schedule, 2 to 6 months apart. However, people who are immunocompromised are recommended to receive 2 doses, 1 to 2 months apart. It is important to receive both doses for best protection.

Do I need Shingrix vaccine if I have previously had the Zostavax vaccine?

If you have already received a free Zostavax® vaccine under the National Immunisation Program, you are not eligible for a free Shingrix® vaccine for at least 5 years.  

However, if you purchased the Zostavax® vaccine privately, you can receive the Shingrix® vaccine for free under the program, if you are eligible. You are recommended to wait at least 12 months between receiving a private Zostavax® vaccine and getting the free funded Shingrix® vaccine. It is important to receive both doses of Shingrix® for the best protection.

Can I receive Shingrix for free if I have previously received Zostavax?

People who have previously received Zostavax®, cannot receive Shingrix® for free until at least 5 years after the Zostavax® dose. It is important to receive both doses for the best protection.

Can I receive Shingrix for free if I received the first dose privately?

Eligible people who have received one dose privately can receive their second dose free provided they are 65 years of age or older.

I have had shingles, do I need to be vaccinated?

People who have had shingles are still at risk of getting shingles again. Vaccination with Shingrix® should be delayed for at least 12 months after an episode of shingles. People who are immunocompromised may be vaccinated from 3 months after infection but should discuss this with their health care provider.

Can the Shingrix vaccine be given at the same time as other vaccines?

Shingrix® can be given at the same time as most other vaccines, including influenza and pneumococcal. However, it is best to have it by itself if possible. This can reduce the reactions experienced from having multiple vaccines. Talk to your doctor or other vaccination provider for advice.

Is the Shingrix vaccine safe?

Minor reactions to the Shingrix® vaccine are common which may include local reaction at the injection site, redness and swelling. You may also experience tiredness, muscle aches, headaches, fever and gastrointestinal symptoms. These reactions typically disappear in a few days.

How do I check if I have previously received Zostavax?

Your doctor or immunisation provider can check your vaccination history on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). If you received a Zostavax® vaccine prior to 1 July 2021, when reporting to the AIR became mandatory, the vaccination may not be on the AIR. Ask your doctor or immunisation provider to check your medical records.

Where can I get the Shingrix vaccine?

You can get the Shingrix® vaccine from your local doctor/general practice, participating community pharmacies or Aboriginal Medical Services. While the vaccine is free under the NIP for eligible people, your vaccination provider may charge a consultation fee for the visit. Check if there are any fees when making your appointment.

If you are not eligible for a free vaccine under the NIP, you can purchase the vaccine privately. Talk to local vaccination providers to find out how much it will cost.

I am an immunisation provider. How do I order Shingrix vaccines?

From 30th October 2023, immunisation providers will be able to order supplies of Shingrix® through the NSW Vaccine Centre online ordering system. You can begin administering the vaccine from 1 November 2023.

Where do I get printed copies of the NSW immunisation schedule?

Immunisation providers will receive hardcopies of the NSW Immunisation Schedule, A3 poster and fridge basket stickers. Additional resources can be ordered by completing the NSW Immunisation Resource Order Form and sending to the Better Health Centre, either via email at nslhd-bhc@health.nsw.gov.au or fax on (02) 9887 5452.

Where do I find further information about the changes?

[back to top]

Current as at: Tuesday 19 December 2023
Contact page owner: Immunisation