Austin, TX

Can the COVID Vaccine Give You Shingles?

Nicole Akers

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To receive the shot or not, that is the question?Photo by SHVETS production from Pexels

Austin, TX--If my personal experience counts, then yes it can. I'd be one of the earliest cases reported in the Austin area. Three weeks to the day of receiving the second Covid shot I woke up in immense pain. At first, I thought it was just the day after a really intense workout. Delayed onset muscle soreness usually begins the day after an intense workout and can last for up to three days.

This was different pain, and a rash appeared too. Then my body started to burn all over. A quick Google search and a trip to the doctor brought answers I hadn’t expected.

The rash I thought was poison ivy was shingles. She only had to glance to make a diagnosis. “I am too young to get shingles, arent I?”

“You’re young, but not too young. Still, this is strange. Have you had the vaccine?”

“Yes, the second dose was three weeks ago.”

Her eyes flashed acknowledgment as I pulled out my vaccine card and extended it to her.

I was happy enough having received the first dose, but my daughter wanted to be vaccinated as her age group became eligible for the vaccine. We wanted both my husband and me to be fully vaccinated to discover any potential risks before having it administered to our children.

So, I got the second shot. And three weeks to the day later, I woke up in indescribable pain. I became a statistic my doctor reported to the CDC for ongoing discovery. And the CDC asked her to have follow-up visits for further discovery of symptoms.

So far, I haven’t found a source that directly says that the vaccine causes Shingles, but will only state that there is a link between the two:

“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.

And there are naysayers:

“Things happen, particularly with older adults,” Schaffner, Professor of medicine at Vanderbilt, says. “We have to identify medical events that might be causal from coincidence. So far we don’t have any other events other than allergic reactions [linked to the vaccine]."

Additionally, he suggests that anyone who is concerned about getting Shingles should first talk with their doctor before getting the vaccine.

That’s all well and good, to ask general questions where problems may arise, and, in my opinion, it's a patient's responsibility to look out for their own health. But, I don’t have an autoimmune disease. I am generally healthy. And I’m otherwise too young to get Shingles. There is no reason this should have been on my radar.

I am not “older.” You’re young, but this is not impossible, my doctor reminds me.

She looked me in the eye in her office in Austin and said, “Everyone should get vaccinated. Some people will die, but more people will die without getting vaccinated.”

I smiled on the outside and nodded my head, somewhat in disbelief that she was saying this directly to someone — me — who is having a rather severe uncommon reaction to the shot. Still smiling while thinking she’s coldhearted and inner thoughts added an expletive too.

Who is she — or anyone else — to tell me I should get a shot without understanding the risks if the understanding is available? I didn’t sign up to be tested on like a lab rat, but I did volunteer for the shot, understanding it was deemed generally safe for healthy individuals.

Most insurance companies won’t cover the cost of the Shingles vaccine for anyone who is not age 50 or older. So, let’s pretend for a second that I had some alerts that I should have gotten the Shingles vaccine early. My insurance company wouldn’t pay for it, according to my doctor — not for over six years yet.

Case studies reveal shingles outbreaks after only women have received the covid vaccine. Only one woman developed shingles after receiving both covid shots. In all other cases, the women developed shingles after just one covid vaccine: a 44-year-old woman with Sjogren’s Syndrome, a 56-year-old woman with a history of rheumatoid arthritis, a 59-year-old woman with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis, a 36-year-old woman with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis, and a lung infection, a 38-year-old woman with a connective tissue disease, and a 61-year-old woman with a long history of rheumatoid arthritis.

Interestingly, there are no reported cases of men developing Shingles after having received the shot.

How do you get Shingles, and what symptoms can result?

You can get Shingles if you’ve previously had chickenpox, likely as a child. The way my doctor describes it, the virus lives in your spine. When the virus reactivates later, it comes out as Shingles. WebMD says 1 in 3 people who have had chickenpox develop shingles.

The result is a red rash that looks a little like poison ivy, and it usually stays on the trunk area. It has been known to travel onto the face and around the eyes and ears, in some cases. The rash usually travels around the midsection and on one side of your body.

The pain it causes can vary, but after having had severe pain and burning over my whole body, I’ve enjoyed ten days in a Tylenol with codeine and Vicodin cocktail of medication, and I’m only about halfway through the course of the virus.

Having had both the virus and Shingles, my case of Shingles is far worse than having Coronavirus. If anyone is vaccine-hesitant, I certainly cannot blame you. If you want to know more about what possible side effects can happen before you stick that needle in your arm, I say knowledge is the power of your health. Learn all you can, even if you think you’re healthy. Have you had your COVID vaccine?

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Professional freelance writer | Happy Mom of 2 bringing you amazing tips on parenting, travel, & lifestyle with a touch of humor & sarcasm | Dog Mom | Bestselling author.

Austin, TX
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