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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  • Posted

    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. 

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  • Posted

    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

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    • Posted

      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,

      ?David 

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    • 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

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    • Posted

      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.

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    • Posted

      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. 
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    • Posted

      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.
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  • Posted

    Betty,

    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

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  • Posted

    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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  • Posted

    I searched google for Shingles and Flu shot and found this discussion. I also was diagnosed with Shingles a few days after the flu shot this year.  I had the flu shot November 14, 2017, began noticing the shingles rash on my face on November 16, and my doctor confirmed it was shingles on November 20.  I am age 42 and I have had the flu shot consistently for the last 5 years, but this is the first time I've had shingles. My doctor believes that the flu shot could have compromised my immunity and allowed the shingles virus to activate.  I'm curious about different flu strains in the flu shot each year, and how perhaps new ones can now be connected to causing shingles?

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    • Posted

      Hi Michaela,

      This discussion comes up during the influenza vaccine season.

      Scientific studies have shown that getting the flu shot does not trigger Shingles.

      There is going to be a certain percentage of individuals who happen get Shingles around the same time, but remember, the varicella virus was probably activated 2 weeks before you even had the flu shot (the pre-eruptive phase. )

      I am not trying to marginalize anyone who is concerned about this phenomenon, by any means. One has to weigh the risks of the flu vs the risk of a not so effective flu vaccine, that does weaken the influenza strain individuals do get.

      I choose to get the flu vaccine, and have had the Pneumovax and Prevnar vaccines.

      Sadly, I know of two young family friends who died of pneumonia within 60 hours of onset of getting the flu. They were a sweet 7 year old girl and sweet 32 year old mother of two.

      Best Wishes

      Merry Juliana

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    • Posted

      Sorry, not buying the "coincidence" explanation. Clearly there IS a connection between getting a flu shot and developing shingles. No one is saying the flu vaccine itself directly gives you shingles. We're saying that it causes your immune system to weaken as antibodies are focused on protecting your body from the flu virus (even though it is inactivated!) and thus it provides an opening for the dormant herpes zoster virus to awaken and thus cause a shingles outbreak. THAT is the connection between the flu shot and an outbreak of shingles and there is NO medical evidence to the contrary. In fact, it has been proven that a weakened immune system definitely DOES increase your odds of getting shingles. And the introduction of the flu virus (even though it is no longer alive!) via a flu shot DEFINITELY temporarily weakens your immune system against fighting off other viruses -- such as the dormant herpes zoster virus. So there IS a connection between getting a flu shot and then developing shingles soon after. It is NOT simply "coincidence". Having said that, it is still important to get a flu shot because the flu can be deadly. What we need to do is figure out how to bolster our immune system while it's busy building defenses against an invasion of a live flu virus in the future. That will decrease the odds of a dormant herpes zoster virus from producing an outbreak of shingles until our immune system is back to full strength.

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    • Posted

      Agree, the flu can be a very risky business and even if I knew that I was going to get shingles after it, i would still have the shot. You cannot overlook the fact that so many of us have had this happen or have this in common. Research includes gathering this type of evidence otherwise why have they even studied that it doesnt trigger shingles....must have been other incidences. it is very interesting and really surprised me. I am a certified immunization nurse myself !

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  • Posted

    Hi - i got shingles one day after flu vax. I am immunocompromised so maybe this makes sense. for those of you who are healthy, there must be a link...

     

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