There are several reasons why people may elect not to be vaccinated against shingles. In addition, there are several medical reasons for which it is not advisable to be vaccinated. However, for most eligible people, it is generally the case that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the cons.
Being vaccinated against shingles may not prevent illness. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that it may reduce the risk of developing shingles by more than 50 percent. The Mayo Clinic also reports that it may reduce the severity and duration of symptoms in people who do elect to be vaccinated and who then go on to develop shingles.
Vaccination for shingles may also not prevent you from developing postherpetic neuralgia, a condition of severe pain that persists after the shingles rash has cleared. However, the CDC reports that vaccination reduces your risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia by up to 67 percent.
The CDC and Mayo Clinic report that the side effects of the shingles vaccine include a reaction at the injection site. This may involve redness, swelling, pain or itching. The other common side effect is headache.
Some people who are vaccinated against shingles go on to develop a shingles-like rash as a result. It is theoretically possible for this rash to pose a risk of transmission to people who have not yet had chickenpox according to James M. Steckelberg, MD. However, the CDC notes that there have been no reported cases of this kind of transmission.
There are several groups of people for whom the shingles vaccine is not recommended. These include people whose immune systems have been weakened by illness or medical treatment. Others, according to the Mayo Clinic, include those who have had lymph and bone cancer and those who have a serious allergy to gelatin.