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Updated on July 3, 2022 2:10 am
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Updated on July 3, 2022 2:10 am
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Updated on July 3, 2022 2:10 am

Global Statistics

All countries
Updated on July 3, 2022 2:10 am
All countries
Updated on July 3, 2022 2:10 am
All countries
Updated on July 3, 2022 2:10 am
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Can Covid Vaccine Cause Shingles

What Could Be Causing Singles In These Patients

Can Shingles Affect The COVID Vaccine? Dr. Mallika Marshall Answers Your Questions

Researchers dont yet know, but its important to keep in mind that this is a very small number of patients and the data is preliminary. This study does not prove that the COVID-19 vaccine causes shingles in people with inflammatory or autoimmune conditions.

Its a good observational study, but there are issues with observational studies in general there are a lot of confounding factors, says Masoom Modi, MD, a rheumatologist at UCLA Health Porter Ranch, who was not involved with the study. This is a certain population that obviously has a lower immune system and therefore an increased risk to get any type of infection. However, we cant really conclude that the COVID-19 vaccine caused shingles.

More research will be needed to understand if there is an association between the COVID-19 vaccine and the reactivation of the shingles virus, or whether there are additional factors that may play a role for certain patients.

The risk of shingles infection is estimated to be two-fold higher in rheumatoid arthritis patients compared to the general population . Additional risk factors for shingles infection in rheumatoid arthritis include old age, high disease activity, and dose-related use of glucocorticoids .

There doesnt appear to be an increased risk of shingles after other types of vaccines, but certain medications can raise the risk, like the drug tofacitinib used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ulcerative colitis, says Dr. Modi.

How Can You Prevent Shingles

A vaccine can provide protection against shingles. This is recommended by the CDC for all people age 60 years or older, except those who have a compromised immune system.;

Dont make the mistake of thinking that having had shingles provides adequate protection. Patients who’ve had shingles believe that they’re probably not going to get them again, says infectious disease expert;Raymond Johnson, MD, PhD. But those patients actually should be vaccinated as recommended by the CDC. Although the data is very limited, it appears that the vaccine boost provides more powerful protection than getting shingles itself.

When Should I See A Doctor Because Of The Side Effects I Experience From Shingrix

In clinical trials, Shingrix was not associated with serious adverse events. In fact, serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. For example, for every 1 million doses of a vaccine given, only one or two people may have a severe allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction happen within minutes or hours after vaccination and include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness. If you experience these or any other life-threatening symptoms, see a doctor right away.

Shingrix causes a strong response in your immune system, so it may produce short-term side effects more intense than you are used to from other vaccines. These side effects can be uncomfortable, but they are expected and usually go away on their own in 2 or 3 days.

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Covid Vaccine And Shingles: What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles What Causes It

Covid vaccines have enabled international leaders to breathe a little easier, as the finished candidates have proven effective at preventing more than 90 percent of infections. And most have encountered few issues with their rollout, although some countries have performed better than others. Despite uptake, the jab is still new, and health officials have had to dispel circulating side effect rumours.

What Does Shingles Look Like


The shingles rash is comprised of bright red blisters that scab over in 7 to 10 days and clear up within 2 to 4 weeks. The most distinctive feature of this rash is that it usually appears in a single stripe on only one side of the body. While shingles usually goes away without treatment, it can cause long-term problems in older patients. The most common of these is long-term pain called post-herpetic neuralgia in areas where the rash appeared; the pain remains even after the rash clears up. Other complications can include vision impairment, balance problems, or difficulty hearing. In rare cases, shingles can spread into the brain or spinal cord and cause serious complications such as meningitis or a stroke.;

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Why People Are Talking About Covid And Herpes

First, let’s talk about how the COVID vaccine became linked to herpes in the first place.

A recent study published in Rheumatologylooked at the effect of mRNA-based vaccines on patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases – a group of diseases that cause your immune system to attack your joints, muscles, bones, and organs, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren syndrome, and polymyositis.

The study reported that out of 491 patients with AIIRD, six adult women developed herpes zoster infections, aka shingles, within three to 14 days after receiving the Pfizer vaccine – five developed symptoms after their first dose and one after receiving the second dose. The researchers noted that these six women accounted for only 1.2 percent of the 491 patients with AIIRD involved in the study. Meanwhile, zero patients in the control group experienced a herpes zoster infection after vaccination.

The information was then published on April 20 in the New York Post, where it began making the rounds online. And though the study’s lead author, Victoria Furer, M.D., did tell the Jerusalem Postthat there’s no causal link between the two , she mentioned that the vaccine could be a “trigger” to patients with similar pre-existing conditions. And this was enough to create a little internet frenzy particularly among those who are already skeptical of getting the vaccine in the first place.

Will There Be Any Side Effects From The Shingles Vaccination

There are 2 shingles vaccines: Zostavax and Shingrix .

With both vaccines it’s quite common to;get redness and discomfort at the vaccination site, headaches and fatigue,;but these side effects should not last more than a few days. See a GP if you have side effects that last longer than a few days, or if you develop a rash after having the shingles vaccination.

Read more about the shingles vaccine side effects.

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What Everyone Should Know About The Shingles Vaccine

Shingles vaccination is the only way to protect against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia;, the most common complication from shingles. CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix , separated by 2 to 6 months, to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease. Your doctor or pharmacist can give you Shingrix as a shot in your upper arm.

Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and PHN. Two doses of Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and PHN. Protection stays above 85% for at least the first four years after you get vaccinated.

What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Shingrix

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Studies show that Shingrix is safe. The vaccine helps your body create a strong defense against shingles. As a result, you are likely to have temporary side effects from getting the shots. The side effects may affect your ability to do normal daily activities for 2 to 3 days.

Most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after getting Shingrix, and some also had redness and swelling where they got the shot. Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. About 1 out of 6 people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. ;Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.

You might have a reaction to the first or second dose of Shingrix, or both doses.; If you experience side effects, you may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

If you experience side effects from Shingrix, you should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System . Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS websiteexternal icon, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.

If you have any questions about side effects from Shingrix, talk with your doctor.

The shingles vaccine does not contain thimerosal .

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Covid Vaccines And Vision

Fear of side effects, vision problems included, is the biggest reason why some people are hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, there’s no evidence that any of the available COVID-19 vaccines cause widespread vision-related side effects.Three vaccines are currently being used in the United States:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech, now fully approved by the FDA under the brand name Comirnaty.

  • Moderna.

  • Johnson & Johnson / Janssen.

According to the CDC, the vast majority of vaccine side effects are mild, and are “normal signs that your body is building protection.” They do not include eye- or vision-related symptoms.

These common side effects include:

  • Pain, redness and/or swelling in the arm where you got the injection.

  • Fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and/or nausea.

These common reactions usually go away within a few days.

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What Are The Main Causes Of Shingles

If you are currently experiencing a shingles outbreak, its natural to question and want to know what caused it.

Besides the herpes zoster virus being reactivated in your system, other more complicated, less well-known triggers for the virus include:

  • the decline in your immune systems response, a natural part of aging
  • procedures, such as organ transplants, that require the use of immunosuppressant medication
  • autoimmune conditions, such as Crohns disease, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • immunosuppressant treatments, such as chemotherapy, corticosteroids, and anti-inflammatory medications

Whether you suspect that you have shingles, COVID-19, or both, seek medical attention immediately if you notice one or more of the following:

  • a temperature of 103°F or higher
  • difficulty breathing
  • skin or lips that are turning pale or bluish
  • persistent pain or pressure in your chest
  • confusion or feeling disoriented
  • a rash near your eye

If you have a compromised immune system, are pregnant, or are over age 65 years, see a doctor right away if you suspect you have COVID-19 orshingles regardless of your specific symptoms.

Shingles is typically treated with antiviral medication. The earlier you get a confirmed diagnosis, the more effective the medication will be at managing your symptoms.

Acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are antiviral medications that may be prescribed to treat a shingles outbreak.

Other treatments for shingles include:

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What To Know About The Study Linking Covid

New research purports to find a link between receiving an mRNA vaccine for covid-19 and shingles, also known as herpes zoster, in certain people with autoimmune conditions. But while the link may be worth exploring, the average person shouldnt be worried about this possible risk or pay much attention to misleading news articles covering the research.

The study was last week in the journal Rheumatology by scientists in Israel. They studied people with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases, conditions that include rheumatoid arthritis, and compared them to a similar group of people who didnt have any autoimmune diseases. Out of nearly 500 patients with these conditions, they identified six who developed shingles soon after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine, compared to zero people in the control group who also got the shot.

The findings, the authors wrote, show that more research is needed to clarify the association between the Pfizer mRNA vaccine and shingles, an illness caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Importantly, this doesnt mean the vaccine gave them the shingles virus.

Not that herpes, guys!

So yes, while scientists do need to keep studying this connection, its unlikely to be anything more than a very rare risk among some people already vulnerable to shingles. And no, the covid-19 vaccine isnt going to give you herpes.

Stroke And Other Brain Ailments

Is Chickenpox Dangerous? Yes. Varicella

In addition to shingles’ telltale rash, neurological symptoms develop quickly and can include headaches, vomiting, fever, and confusion. This could be because varicella zoster virus sits on a nerve. “That nerve cell body has an arm that has contact with the skin, but it also has another arm that goes directly to the brain,” explains Dr. Mukerji. “When the virus goes to the brain, it can cause meningitis, encephalitis, or stroke.”

So, while shingles resulting in brain conditions is rare, it can increase your risk for stroke. Case in point: a 2016 review of epidemiological studies published in the Journal of Stroke & Cerebrovascular Diseases found that during the year after a shingles bout, the risk of stroke increased 59%, and this risk was highest among those under 40.

In addition, shingles can also cause swelling in the brain and seizures, both of which can lead to serious and permanent complications.

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Shingles Is Not Caused By Covid

Physicians in Israel recently reported that six women with autoimmune disorders developed the painful rash known as shingles 3 to 14 days after they received a first or second dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Yikes! Traditional and social medianot to mention vaccine foeshave pounced on the small study, warning that COVID-19 vaccines might reactivate the childhood chickenpox virus, triggering a shingles outbreak in adults.

But that’s like concluding that because the rooster crows at dawn every day, he makes the sun come up.

“It’s called a logical fallacy,” said William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, and also a liaison to the CDC’s immunization advisory committee, which makes vaccine recommendations that shape insurance coverage. “The Israeli doctors fell into this trap because the COVID-19 vaccination and the shingles outbreaks were related in time.”

Even the Israelis, who published in the journal Rheumatology, acknowledge that “the study design is not structured to determine a causal relationship.”

So let’s dig into what has been determined.

A sneaky virus called herpes zoster

Chickenpox is now preventable with a vaccine, but people born before 1995 probably had the childhood infection, which shows up as itchy red blisters. The virus, called varicella zoster, is part of the herpesvirus family, which includes the genital herpes virus that causes sexually transmitted infections.

Explore further

Study Says Shingles May Be A Side Effect Of The Covid

Shingles , Herpes zoster, varicella-zoster virus. skin rash and blisters on body

A new study shows herpes zoster infections, also known as shingles, may be a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The study in the Rheumatology Journal says scientists in Israel found six cases in a new study of patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases that developed the painful skin rash known as herpes zoster after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

Emedicine describes herpes zoster as a viral infection that occurs with reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, commonly known as chickenpox. It is usually a painful but self-limited skin rash.

Symptoms typically start with pain along the affected skin, which is followed in 2-3 days by a vesicular eruption, commonly known as a blister.

Out of 491 patients, six people or 1.2 percent experienced the infection, researchers said.

Five of them developed shingles after the first dose and the sixth got it after the second.

Dr. Victoria Furer, lead researcher on the study, said, we cannot say the vaccine is the cause at this point, and noted, we can say it might be a trigger in some patients.

We should not scare people, she told the Jerusalem Post. The overall message is to get vaccinated. It is just important to be aware.

Editors note: This article has been updated to include the commonly used names of the herpes zoster and varicella-zoster viruses, and additional context on the origin of shingles.

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Long Term Side Effects

In rare cases, the live shingles vaccine, Zostavax, can cause a skin rash or shingles.

The rash that occurs with shingles can affect any area of the body, but it often appears as a line of blisters that wraps around the torso.

Within a few days the blisters cluster, and they continue to form for several more days. The blisters can take 2â3 weeks to heal, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Other common symptoms of shingles include:

  • headache

The FDA have approved two shingles vaccines for adults: the recombinant zoster vaccine and the zoster virus vaccine .

How Can The Covid

Medical Daily Digest: COVID-19 vaccine and what it means for mammograms and shingles

It’s important to point out that the study didn’t prove the COVID-19 vaccine causes shingles. Instead, the study found a link, and even the study authors wrote that the association needs to be researched more.

That said, this connection isn’t shocking to doctors. “People with autoimmune disorders that are on immunosuppressant medications are at higher risk of having shingles,”infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Maryland, tells Health. Vaccines can also impact the immune system, and “there have been reports of vaccines causing shingles in the past,” Dr. Adalja says.

“This can happen with the flu vaccine and others,” Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease specialist and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Health. And if someone already has an autoimmune condition, they may be at greater risk of shingles, Dr. Adalja adds.

Dr. Adalja calls the study “well done” and says it simply shows that “this phenomenon can occur after the COVID-19 vaccine as it has with others.”

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