Shingles vaccine

The shingles vaccine is recommended for anyone aged 50 and over. It’s free for the 12 months after your 65th birthday. There is a cost for the shingles vaccine outside this time.

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What the shingles vaccine protects you from

Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of developing shingles later in life. 1 in 3 people will get shingles during their lifetime.

Shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the face, body or head.

Before the rash develops, people often have pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop.

The most serious complications are nerve pain that can last for months or years, and eye problems that can result in loss of vision.

The best protection against shingles is vaccination.

More about shingles – IMAC

When it’s given

The shingles vaccine is recommended for anyone aged 50 and over.

At age 65

Shingles vaccination is free for 12 months after your 65th birthday. You need 2 doses, 2 to 6 months apart.

As long as you receive your first dose when you are 65, your second dose will still be free, even if you get it after you turn 66.

If you’re eligible for a free vaccination, you must get it from your nurse, doctor, or healthcare provider. Pharmacies are not funded to provide free shingles vaccinations.

If you’re not 65 years old

If you’re not 65 years old, you will need to pay. The price will vary depending on the provider, but you can expect it to cost between $600 to $800 for both doses.

Which vaccine is used

The shingles vaccine used in New Zealand is called Shingrix. You need 2 doses, 2 to 6 months apart.

Information about Shingrix – Medsafe (PDF)

How to get a shingles vaccine

Shingles vaccinations can be given at your doctors or pharmacy.

If you’re eligible for a free vaccination, it can only be given at your doctors. Pharmacies are not able to give free shingles vaccinations.

The shingles vaccine can be given at the same time as most other vaccines. Ask your vaccinator if you’re eligible for any other vaccinations at the same time – such as flu or COVID-19 vaccines. 

If you’re not enrolled with a doctor

Some medical centres offer casual doctor and nurse appointments for people who are not enrolled. If you’re eligible for a free shingles vaccine it will still be free, but you may need to pay an administration fee. 

Doctor’s that offer casual appointments Healthpoint 

Side effects and reactions

Like most medicines, vaccines can sometimes cause reactions. These are usually mild, and not everyone will get them.

Mild reactions are normal and shows that your immune system is responding to the vaccine.

If you’re going to have any reactions, they normally happen in the first few days after getting vaccinated. The vaccine itself is gone from your body within a few hours or days.

The most common reaction to an immunisation includes:

  • a slight fever
  • pain or swelling where the needle went in.

Other common reactions

Other common reactions of the shingles vaccine include:

  • headache
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and/or stomach pain
  • muscle pain.

Serious side effects are rare. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your doctor or nurse, or call Healthline for free on 0800 611 116.

Call 111 if you’re worried that you’re having a serious reaction.

Allergic reactions

Serious allergic reactions are extremely rare. Only about 1 in 1 million people will experience this.

Your vaccinator is well-trained and knows what to look for and can treat an allergic reaction quickly if it happens.

Serious allergic reactions normally happen within the first few minutes of vaccination, this is why you need to wait for up to 20 minutes after immunisation.

Page last updated: 8 May 2023