Shingles (herpes zoster) immunisation program

Shingles immunisation can significantly reduce the risk of developing shingles and the associated ongoing persistent pain known as postherpetic neuralgia.

Recommended groups

The Australian Immunisation Handbook (external site) recommends shingles vaccination for specific groups (external site) including:

  • adults aged 60 years and over
  • adults aged 50 years and over who live in the same household as someone who has a weakened immune system.

People who are not eligible for the free government-funded Shingrix® vaccine can purchase shingles vaccine on the private market and may need a prescription.

Eligibility for free vaccine

Since 1 November 2023, the shingles vaccine Shingrix® has replaced Zostavax® under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

Eligibility is outlined on the WA Immunisation Schedule. Shingrix® is funded for the following eligible people:

  • Aboriginal adults aged 50 years and over
  • adults aged 65 years of age and over
  • immunocompromised adults aged 18 years and over with the following risk conditions:
    • haemopoietic stem cell transplant
    • solid organ transplant
    • haematological malignancy
    • advanced or untreated HIV.

A 2-dose course is funded under the program for these groups. Eligible people who have already received one dose of Shingrix® privately can receive their second dose free under the NIP. There is currently no recommendation for booster doses of Shingrix® vaccine.

Refer to the Australian Immunisation Handbook (external site) for clinical guidance such as vaccine recommendations and contraindication.

Vaccination after Zostavax® or an episode of shingles

Patients who have previously received Zostavax® free under the NIP cannot receive free Shingrix® until at least 5 years after the Zostavax® dose.

Patients who have previously received Zostavax® privately, are eligible to receive Shingrix® free under the NIP. An interval of at least 12 months is recommended between receiving Zostavax® and a subsequent dose of Shingrix®. The person will still need to complete the 2-dose schedule of Shingrix®.

People who have had shingles/herpes zoster previously are still at risk of future episodes. Immunocompetent people should delay Shingrix® for at least 12 months after an episode of shingles. Immunocompromised people are at higher risk of recurrence. They can receive Shingrix® from 3 months after the acute illness, following an individualised risk-benefit discussion on the ideal interval for vaccination.

Co-administration with other vaccines

People can receive Shingrix® at the same time as other inactivated vaccines such as tetanus-containing vaccines, pneumococcal vaccines, influenza vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines. However, it is preferable that Shingrix® be given by itself where possible as there is potential for increased adverse events when more than one vaccine is given at the same time.

Provider reporting

Mandatory reporting to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)

It is mandatory for all immunisation providers to report all National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccines administered. Mandatory reporting also includes influenza and COVID-19 vaccines administered.

Immunisation providers who receive and administer other government-funded or private vaccines, should report vaccines administered to ensure individuals have completeness through their AIR immunisation history statement (external site) and their health can be managed effectively. 

New immunisation providers can find more information on Immunisation provider information and resources.

Reporting adverse events following immunisation (AEFI)

Reporting of AEFIs to the Western Australia Vaccine Safety Surveillance (WAVSS) system is a condition of Structured Administrations and Supply Arrangements (SASAs) that provide the authority for immunisation providers to safely administer vaccinations in WA.

Immunisation providers who become aware of an AEFI should use the SAFEVAC Reporting (external site) to notify the WAVSS.

Please visit AEFI for further information about AEFI reporting and surveillance.

Vaccine safety and effectiveness

Studies suggest that Shingrix® is highly effective in preventing shingles in older people and offers long lasting protection against herpes zoster and post-herpetic neuralgia.

Local injection site reactions such as pain, redness and swelling are common. Patients may also experience tiredness, muscle aches, headaches and fever. Rates of local and systemic reactions appear to be higher for Shingrix® than Zostavax®. See ‘provider reporting’ for how to report all adverse events following immunisation.

Immunisation providers should advise their patients of expected reactions before vaccination and the importance of completing the 2 dose schedule. 2 doses of Shingrix® are required for an adequate level and duration of protection.

Vaccine ordering

Immunisation providers are responsible for ensuring vaccines received and stored at their premises, are managed by staff educated in cold chain management who follow the National vaccine storage guidelines: Strive for 5 (external site)

Visit vaccine ordering for related information.

Patient information 

Visit HealthyWA for patient information about shingles (external site) and the shingles vaccine (external site).

The Australian Department of Health and Aged Care has published a fact sheet for consumers (external site) about the Shingrix® vaccine changes.