Shingles and Flu Shot

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Last year I developed a case of shingles shortly after getting my flu shot.  I read on this forum where somebody felt that their shingles might have been related to getting the flu shot.  I have not gotten a flu shot this fall and don’t know if there is a connection between the two or not.  I’m 74 and hate to skip getting the shot but I don’t want to risk a shingles relapse either.  I also wondered if I should get the new shingles shot, which I heard was more effective than the one I got several years ago.  Can anyone else weigh in on either of these issues?

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  • Edited

    I can’t comment on whether the flu shot can cause shingles or increase the risk of getting shingles. However, I can tell you that I developed shingles right after getting my flu shot this year.  

    I got my flu shot on October 18, and I began noticing shingles symptoms (itching, mainly) on October 24. I was diagnosed on October 28. Aside from quite a bit of recent work stress, I’m a very healthy 27-year-old. 

  • Edited

    Dear Betty,

    Influenza is caused by specific RNA viruses. The flu vaccine is a killed virus and is different from the Herpes Zoster-Shingles DNA Varicella virus.

    In order to get Shingles, you have to have had chicken pox, which then lays dormant on your sensory anterior horn in your Central Nervous System.

    Shingles is activated when your immune system is weaker, usually as we age.

    The fact that you had it shortly after your flu shot is a coincidence. Your chance of dying of pneumonia by contracting influenza is greater than the chance of getting Shingles again(for most of us).

    The question is, have you had your Pneumovax and Prevnar immunizations, as well. They are both effective in preventing pneumonia.

    I hope I have helped you.

    Best Wishes

    Merry Juliana

    • Edited

      Hi Merry Juliana,

      Is it possible, for those of us with a lowered immunity, that the flu jab might temporarily further reduce our immunity and give occasion for the shingles virus to assert itself?

      I've never had a flu jab, even though I'm regarded as 'higher-risk' because of athsma, as I tend to have an adverse reaction to inoculations etc. The only time I've ever had flu was mid-summer a few years ago, so not the usual winter flu.

      Best wishes,


    • Posted

      Dear David,

      The influenza vaccine is a killed virus, and as such, cannot cause Shingles. Anyone who is immunocompromised should discuss the pros and cons with their Physician. I believe you fall in that category. As you are a higher risk with reactions, I would obsessively practice excellent hand washing in public, use paper towels to open doors and shut faucets in public places, wipe shopping carts with sanitizer wipes, etc. I have avoided colds and flu, and thus severe asthma/ bronchitis/pneumonia by strictly adhering to these practices.

      I also had the Pneumovax and Prevnar vaccines to prevent pneumonia. These vaccines have helped markedly in decreasing the asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia episodes to maybe one asthma flare every 2-3 years. Before, I was classified as a moderate-severe asthmatic on inhaled ADVAIR 2x daily.

      While the influenza vaccine is not perfect, it also attenuates the severity of the disease, should you contract the disease. Influenza is a killer, not just an annoyance. I have had two close friend's young relatives (age 7 and 32 years) die of pneumonia within three days of contracting influenza within the last three years. They had not had the flu vaccine.

      There is no doubt that added stress can trigger Herpes Zoster-Shingles, but I don't think the vaccine as added stress. It is actually increasing your immune system's response to fight the flu.

      BTW, the high Lysine low Arginine diet has helped me avoid severe recurrent episodes of Herpes Zoster-Shingles the last 6-8 months. I do not take any Lysine supplements. I do take Vitamin D3 as my level was 16, (very low) and a Multi vitamin containing Lutein to help avoid macular degeneration.

      I am aware of your extra issues.

      I hope everything is going smoothly in that department.

      My family and I are remaining happy and healthy as winter approaches.

      Best Wishes

      Merry Juliana

    • Edited

      I've been told by a half dozen medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists who all insist that the flu shot cannot possibly cause singles.

      This is what I know:

      - I had chickenpox as a kid.

      - I had never had shingles before.

      - At age 62 and just 3 hrs after getting a flu shot, I had my first and only outbreak of shingles.

      - I stopped getting flu shots.

      - I have never had shingles since then.

      That's some coincidence.

      My guess is, those of us reporting a connection are not even being reported or counted in the stats because it's "impossible" that a causual relationship exists. There's no reason to report it if it's impossible to occur in the first place.

      My personal belief is, there's enough money wrapped up in convincing older adults to get flu shots, that it's in the industry's interest to discount the possibility, to which I reply - BS.

      Start counting.

    • Edited

      I agree with you. I never got a flu shot ... this year because I’m 62 I decided late in the season to get a flu shot. A week later ... here Inam with shingles! Please let me know how long you had shingles. I’m up to a week and fear it will be a long ride. 
    • Edited

      I agree, but who is to say your immune system isnt regressed from the flu shot in a manner to have the shingles virus activate.
    • Edited

      What about a 12 year old that never had the chicken pox but did get the vaccine? My son received the Flu Mist vaccine a few weeks ago and a few days later had the shingles. Two people had to look at him because they were shocked!! I felt so bad for my son!

    • Edited

      I searched this topic and have found this discussion - because I am also debating on whether to try skipping my flu shot this year. I have Hashimoto's (autoimmune thyroiditis) and have had it since quite young which I believe is less common.

      I got a flu shot for the first time ever, 8 years ago when I was 36 years old.

      I became quite ill within I think about 2 weeks - with shingles - for the first time. At the time, I didn't connect this to the flu vaccination I'd had and put it down to stress. Although very out of the blue for me at that time and it is unusual at my age apparently.

      Its only recently, considering and researching the new Covid vaccines and auto-immune patients - that I realised, I have continued to get shingles (varying degrees, not always as bad) - ever since, probably once a year - and this is always within 3 or so months after getting the flu vaccination, which I have also continued getting.

      Personally, yes, I have decided that this year - I am not going to have the flu shot. And I will see what happens.

      I don't care for any theories that the flu shot cannot possibly be the cause because it is an inactive virus. This is just theory. Like others have said, it's all a bit of a coincidence and for me, this is worth looking into. As I understand it, everyone's immune system can be slightly different in how they respond. So I will see if this works for me.

      Thanks to all for sharing on here. It is helpful...

  • Posted


    I plan to get the new Shingrex immunization by Glaxo-Smith-Kline. It is a two part immunization series, and does cause some redness and swelling at the injection site.

    Merry Juliana

  • Edited

    I just got the flu vaccine last Monday and developed shingles few days later. I'm 30 year old, fit, never had poor immunity (rarely get sick) and stress free. I was forced to take the vaccine because I work in healthcare. Another coincidence... too bad so many people seem to mention it and yet CDC is silent... 

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