Dosage of Shingrix: What to Know

Medically Reviewed By Purva Singla, PharmD

Shingrix: Introduction

Shingrix is a brand-name vaccine that contains the active ingredient recombinant* varicella zoster virus. It belongs to a class of drugs called recombinant vaccines. Shingrix is a biologic drug, and it’s not available in a biosimilar form.†

This vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help prevent shingles in:

  • adults ages 50 years and older
  • adults ages 18 years and older with conditions that put them at higher risk of shingles

In this article, you’ll find information about Shingrix’s dosage and details on getting the vaccine. For a comprehensive overview of Shingrix, view this article.

* “Recombinant” means the vaccine utilizes parts of the virus it protects against. In this case, Shingrix contains parts of the herpes zoster virus that causes shingles.
† A biosimilar medication is a drug similar to a brand-name biologic drug (its parent drug).

Finding a healthcare professional

If you’re interested in getting Shingrix, search here to find a doctor who might administer it.

This article describes the typical recommended dosage for Shingrix. This dosage is provided by the drug’s manufacturer.

Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Shingrix that’s best for you.

Shingrix: Dosage

This section presents the commonly recommended dosage for Shingrix.

Shingrix’s form and strength

Shingrix comes in two parts, which are both inside single-dose vials. One part is a powder, and the other part is a suspension. The powder and suspension are combined to form a solution that equals one dose. Each dose contains 50 micrograms (mcg) of recombinant* shingles virus in 0.5 milliliters (mL) of solution.

* “Recombinant” means the vaccine utilizes parts of the virus it protects against. In this case, Shingrix contains parts of the herpes zoster virus that causes shingles.

Typical recommended dose and dosage schedule

This overview describes Shingrix’s recommended dosage.

Shingrix dosage for preventing shingles

A dose of Shingrix is 0.5 mL. You’ll receive two doses by injection. After the first dose, you’ll receive the second dose 2 to 6 months later.

Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Shingrix that’s right for your condition. In some cases, they may shorten the interval between the first and second doses. For example, they may recommend getting them 1 to 2 months apart. This is often the case in people who are immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system).

Length of treatment

Shingrix is not a long-term treatment. Instead, it’s a vaccine with a two-dose schedule.

Shingrix: Common questions about dosage

This section presents common questions related to Shingrix’s dosage.

Is Shingrix always given on a two-dose schedule?

Yes, the two-dose schedule ensures that your body gets the full effect of the vaccine.       

Maybe you’ve had shingles already. Or perhaps you’ve already received Zostavax,* which is an older shingles vaccine. Either way, doctors advise that you receive Shingrix on a two-dose schedule. This means two injections.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about when you should receive Shingrix.

* Zostavax is a vaccine that is no longer available in the United States.

Do doctors always recommend having a Shingrix second dose after 6 months from the first?

No, they don’t always follow that exact schedule. Doctors usually recommend having a second dose of Shingrix within 6 months after the first. Your interval will depend on any conditions or special circumstances you may have.

For example, you may be immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system). In this case, doctors may recommend getting your doses 1 to 2 months apart.

Your doctor will discuss the Shingrix dose schedule they recommend for you.

Is a Shingrix second dose ever delayed from the vaccine’s typical dose spacing?

It’s possible, although that’s not recommended. However, you may become ill or have a life event that delays your second dose.

In such cases, you do not need to restart the two-dose schedule. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If your second dose is delayed for any reason, call your doctor or pharmacist. They will help you schedule it as soon as possible.

How many doses of Shingrix do people need to receive?

People need to receive two doses of Shingrix in nearly every case. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two doses for preventing shingles. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approves Shingrix to be given in two doses. (See the prescribing information for Shingrix, which is approved by the FDA.)

Your doctor or pharmacist can discuss the frequency of Shingrix doses.

Is Shingrix ever given with a total of 3 doses?

It’s possible in some cases. If your second dose is given too soon after the first dose, you may need to receive three doses of Shingrix.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) comments on this. It notes that a second dose of Shingrix is invalid if given too soon after the first. Specifically, a second dose is invalid if given within 4 weeks after the first dose. In this case, your second dose will be readministered. This will occur at least 4 weeks after you received the invalid dose, but preferably 2 months after.

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about three Shingrix doses.

Shingrix: How it’s given

Shingrix comes in two parts. One part is a powder, and the other part is a suspension. A healthcare professional, such as your pharmacist or doctor, will prepare the dose for injection. They will mix the powder and suspension to form a solution. This solution equals one dose, which is one injection.

Your healthcare professional will administer Shingrix by intramuscular injections. They’ll usually administer it into your shoulder muscle.

Shingrix is administered in two separate doses, which is two injections. Your healthcare professional usually gives them 2 to 6 months apart.

After each injection, your healthcare professional may observe you for a couple of minutes. This is to watch for any reaction you may have to the vaccine. If an allergic or other reaction occurs, they will be available to respond and treat it quickly.

Shingrix: Missing a dose

If you miss your second dose of Shingrix, call your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible. They can help you get it scheduled.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) comments on such cases. It confirms that it’s not necessary to restart the two-dose schedule.

View these medication reminder options to help avoid missing appointments to get your Shingrix injections. You could also set an alarm or download a reminder app on your phone.

Shingrix: What to discuss with your doctor

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist for additional information about Shingrix’s dosage. Keep in mind that the dosages presented in this article are typical dosages from the drug’s manufacturer.

In addition to discussing Shingrix with your doctor, you may find the following articles helpful in learning more.

  • Overview of Shingrix. For comprehensive details on Shingrix, see this article.
  • Vaccine comparison. To learn how Shingrix compares with Zostavax, a vaccine that used to be available in the United States, see this article
  • Information on side effects. If you’d like to know about possible side effects of Shingrix, view this article.
  • Cost and savings options. For information about Shingrix’s cost and ways to save on your prescription, read this article.
  • Details about interactions. If you want to find out about possible interactions with certain drugs, view this article.
  • Details about shingles. To learn more about shingles, which Shingrix is used to help prevent, see this article.

Disclaimer: Healthgrades has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

Medical Reviewer: Purva Singla, PharmD
Last Review Date: 2022 Dec 12
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