Ask the Doctor: Is the Shingles Vaccine Safe? Are there Viable Alternatives?

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(Originally published November 2018; updated June 2022)

There are numerous reports of injuries (eye damage, autoimmune reactions, etc) and even deaths caused by the shingles vaccine – with multiple lawsuits arising as a result

Dear Dr. Rona, When I recently visited my doctor, he recommended that I get the shingles vaccine to prevent infection by this virus. When I asked why he thought I was at risk for shingles, his only comment was that everyone over 60 is at increased risk. In regards to brands, my doctor said there are two choices: 1) Zostavax: Free for those 65+ (paid for by Ontario taxpayers); reduces risk of infection by 50%; 2) Shingrix: Comes in two doses of $150 each; not subsidized by taxpayers; reduces risk by 90%.

My question is: How safe do you think the shingles vaccine is, and is it worth the money? Dominique P., Oshawa, Ont.

Dear Dominique, According to Medical News Today: “Shingles is an infection of an individual nerve and the skin surface that is supplied by the nerve. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.” Both chickenpox and shingles are caused by similar viruses, both belonging to the herpes virus family. Basically, shingles is reactivated chickenpox and is usually triggered by severe stress, poor sleep, or poor nutrition.

Shingles can occur along any nerve distribution site but the face, chest, and back are common locations. It can be very painful and last for months or even years. Early treatment with anti-viral drugs is said to be effective, but often this type of treatment is ineffective. Initially there is a blistering type of rash that gradually fades with time but the pain can linger and persist nevertheless. This is then called post-herpetic neuralgia. Conventional medicine treats this with assorted pain killers, both oral and topical.

The majority of those in the medical profession are now strongly recommending the shingles vaccine for everyone over the age of 60. Some are recommending it for anyone over 50.

There are two types of shingles vaccines. The first one on the market was Zostavax; this is a live vaccine, and for a variety of reasons is not the recommended choice nowadays. The second one, Shingrix, is not a live vaccine but is termed an inactivated vaccine (recombinant zoster vaccine) and is the current vaccine recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Is the shingles vaccine a wise health decision?

Some well-respected health professionals and institutions do not seem to think so. There are issues that you should know about which your doctor may not be sharing with you.

First of all, is the shingles vaccine really effective? Well-respected physician, Dr. David Brownstein, is quoted as saying that the shingles vaccine is 97% ineffective. In one of his recent blogs (see reference list at end), he explains why studies on the vaccine appear to be misleading. I tend to agree with his negative viewpoint about the vaccine because I’ve seen at least a dozen patients over the past few years who have developed shingles despite having received the vaccine. In fact, one of my patients developed shingles just a few days after the vaccine. Even the vaccine manufacturer, Merck, admits that the shingles vaccine can cause shingles. I often wonder why these patients just don’t ask for their money back.

Is the shingles vaccine completely safe?

According to the CDC, adverse reactions to the shingles vaccine are mild and of minimal concern. Health Sciences Institute, however, has raised some doubts. Their contention is that one of the vaccine ingredients, MSG, can be damaging to the brain. They also claim that people who receive the shingles vaccine can pass on the chickenpox virus to others.

Finally, there are numerous reports of injuries (eye damage, autoimmune reactions, etc.) and even deaths caused by the shingles vaccine – with multiple lawsuits arising as a result. One of the law firms involved in a lawsuit launched by vaccine-damaged patients has over 5,000 clients. Unfortunately, these facts are either ignored or minimized by Big Pharma, medical doctors, and pharmacists, with most of these mainstream players never even mentioning the potential dangers. The Drugwatch website contains a list of the potential injuries that are possible within one year of the shingles vaccination date:

  • Autoimmune disorders, including Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy, Meniere’s Disease
  • Bell’s Palsy (facial paralysis)
  • Cardiovascular events; Hearing loss
  • Congestive heart failure; Pneumonia
  • Herpetic Neuralgia (disorder in the nerves); Myelitis (spinal cord inflammation)
  • Postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN (pain continuing after shingles blister subsides)
  • Serious neurological diseases or disorders, including brain inflammation (also known as encephalitis)
  • Stroke; Vasculitis; Death
  • Vision problems, including blindness, eye infections, retinal damage, acute retinal necrosis

Alternative Therapies for Shingles

Those who opt for natural therapies can experience relief with the following:

– High dose IV vitamin C (75 grams twice weekly)

– Antivirals like Oil of Oregano (3 drops, 3 times daily)

– Black seed oil (1000 mg, 3 times daily)

– Colloidal silver (100 ppm, 2 tsp, 3 times daily)

– Ozone cream (applied topically as needed)

– Curcumin (1000 mg, 3 times daily)

– Probiotics (50 billion units, daily)

Additionally there are homeopathic products like Rhus Tox that are claimed to be of benefit.

Nutritional Medicine Approach to Shingles

To both prevent and treat shingles, one can more safely use the following supplements:

– Vitamin B12 (1000 mcg daily);

– Probiotics (50 billion units daily);

– L-lysine (1000 mg twice daily);

– Vitamin C (oral – to bowel tolerance, and intravenous – 75 grams twice weekly);

– Vitamin D (50,000 IU daily for 3 days, then 10,000 IU daily until better)

These can boost immunity as well as help destroy the virus in your system. A natural health care practitioner can help you with a personalized program.

How Chickenpox May Prevent Shingles

American physician, Dr. Joseph Mercola, MD, states on his website at “Some people think of chickenpox as a dangerous health condition, especially among children. But it is not life-threatening. In fact, it is actually nature’s elegant design to defend you against a more problematic disease – shingles.

According to the National Vaccine Information Center, shingles is more common in individuals over age 50, although those who are immunocompromised are also at risk. Fortunately, exposing yourself to the chickenpox virus in your childhood years, as well as developing it early on, may significantly lower your risk of developing shingles.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read a success story by Beth Fanjoy posted on Vitality’s website about her recovery from shingles, visit:


1) Shingles Vaccine Fails 97% of the time:

2) Health Science Institute concerns about the shingles vaccine:

3) Shingles Vaccine Dangers Exposed:

4) Merck admits shingles vaccine can cause eye damage and shingles:

5) Shingles Vaccine Deaths Unreported: See

6) Shingles Vaccine Safety.

7) Shingles vaccine lawsuits.

8) What is Shingles?

9) The Shingles Vaccines.

Zoltan P. Rona, MD, MSc, offers consultations on nutrition and natural remedies in Thornhill. He has recently retired from medical practice as a Complementary and Alternative medical practitioner and now strictly offers nutritional consultations. He is the medical editor of The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing and has also published several Canadian bestselling books, including Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin. To see more of Dr. Rona’s articles, visit: and for appointments, please call (905) 764-8700; office located at: 390 Steeles Ave. W., Unit 19, Thornhill, Ontario


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  1. 1
    August 15, 23:38 1v1 Battle

    I am concerned about Shingles. Many thanks for the accurate and useful knowledge from the doctors. I hope to have more posts like this in the future

    Reply this comment
  2. b
    May 06, 07:13 bing maps

    But there are some questions, according to the Health Sciences Institute. They claim that MSG, one of the vaccine’s components, may be harmful to the brain.

    Reply this comment
  3. A
    January 13, 22:22 Almond Silver

    Every time I have started taking Lysine, a coldsore eerupts on my mouth within a week, so I have stopped taking it. I wonder if anyone else has found this? I have tried a couple of brands of lysine and it was the same result.

    Reply this comment

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