CDC updates counseling information for Shingrix during COVID-19 pandemic

Pharmacists should be making every effort to ensure patients receive two doses of Shingrix within the recommended 2- to 6-month interval to prevent shingles and its complications in adults aged 50 years and older.

Unless a patient has suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection, this essential vaccination should not be delayed or discontinued during the pandemic. However, CDC stated that counseling patients about potential adverse effects is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic because some shingles vaccination adverse effects may be similar to symptoms of COVID-19.

In CDC’s frequently asked questions about Shingrix, the agency said that if patients experience local adverse effects such as redness, pain, or swelling at the injection site, or systemic adverse effects like fever, chills, or headache, they should assure patients that reactions normally resolve within 72 hours of receiving the vaccination.

“Because of concerns about COVID-19, if a patient develops fever after vaccination, he or she should stay home until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications,” CDC said.

Shingrix does not cause respiratory symptoms common in COVID-19, such as cough or shortness of breath.

Health care providers should not only counsel patients about the risks of self-limiting vaccine-associated adverse effects, but also let patients know about appropriate steps to take if these adverse effects do occur after vaccination.

“Health care providers should also counsel patients to consider the timing of vaccination based on personal and professional commitments,” CDC said.

See the FDA Shingrix prescribing information for more details, as well as CDC’s vaccination guidance during a pandemic.