Recombinant zoster (shingles) vaccine, RZV - what you need to know

Recombinant Zoster (Shingles) Vaccine (RZV): What You Need To Know

Shingles are a painful skin condition caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It is a latent infection and can happen when the immune system is weakened. The recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV) is an FDA-approved vaccine that helps prevent shingles and its complications.

The purpose of the RZV vaccine is to stimulate the immune system so that it produces an adequate level of immunity against the VZV virus. This helps to protect individuals against shingles and its complications.


  • Before you receive the RZV vaccine, make sure to inform your doctor of any allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, or if you have received other vaccines in the past.
  • The vaccine should not be given to someone who is pregnant, severely ill, or has a weakened immune system.
  • You should also tell your doctor if you are taking any medications that suppress your immune system, such as chemotherapy drugs or steroids.


The RZV vaccine is administered as two injections, given 2 to 6 months apart. The first injection should be given at least 8 weeks after any previous doses of vaccines that contained the live VZV virus, such as the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.

The injections are given into the upper arm muscle. Typically, you will feel some discomfort at the injection site which may be accompanied by redness or swelling. This usually resolves itself within a few days.


The RZV vaccine is the only type of shingles vaccine currently available. It is a recombinant vaccine, meaning it's made using genetic material from the VZV virus.


  • The most common side effects of the RZV vaccine include headache, fatigue, nausea, and muscle aches.
  • Serious reactions are considered rare, but a risk nonetheless.
  • If you experience any unusual or persistent side effects after receiving the vaccine, contact your doctor immediately.

Why Get the RZV Vaccine?

  • The RZV vaccine can help protect against shingles and its complications. It is especially recommended for those who are 50 years or older or anyone who has had chickenpox in the past.
  • The vaccine can also reduce the likelihood of long-term pain associated with shingles, as well as other serious complications, such as blindness.
  • The vaccine is safe and well tolerated, with a low risk of serious side effects.

When Should You Get the Vaccine?

The vaccine should be given to individuals aged 50 and older. However, those who have had chickenpox in the past can also receive the vaccine as early as age 40.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that individuals receive the RZV vaccine as soon as possible after turning the recommended age. It is also recommended that those who already had the vaccine receive a second dose 2 to 6 months after the first dose.