Experts demystify COVID-19 vaccine-shingles link


February 9, 2021 – The Reddit forum user was looking for other people in the same dire straits to share their stories. The 27-year-old had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Two and a half weeks later, the user developed shingles. “Does anyone else have a similar experience?” the post asked. “My doctor said there were similar anecdotes to mine.”

At least one respondent said it was “probably not a coincidence. I think it is quite possible to wake up a case of shingles after a vaccine. “

Infectious disease specialists, however, disagree that it is cause and effect, but interest in the possible link remains high. According to Google Trends, searches for the term “covid shingles” peaked in search engine popularity over the past week.

“There is no scientific evidence for this [association]Says Aaron Glatt, MD, head of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, NY, and spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful viral infection that people who have had chickenpox can get when the virus is reactivated. The shingles vaccine, Shingrix, is recommended for people aged 50 and over to prevent the disease.

William Schaffner, MD, professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and also a spokesperson for IDSA, agrees there is no evidence of a link to the COVID-19 vaccine. “Apart from people who have had previous severe allergic reactions, to date no other incidents of other medical events that exceed the normal background rate of these events in the community have been found,” Schaffner says, citing them. CDC data.

The cases of the outbreak of shingles are not surprising, the two doctors also agree, but there is no evidence that they are related to the COVID-19 vaccine. “Things are happening, especially with older people,” Schaffner says. “We need to identify medical events that could be caused by a coincidence. So far, we have no events other than allergic reactions. [linked to the vaccine]. “

“Almost certainly, those who contracted shingles have not been vaccinated against Shingrix,” adds Glatt.

“Almost one in three people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime,” says Glatt. It doesn’t surprise him that cases of shingles are appearing, as many of the millions of Americans who have received their COVID-19 vaccine are older and your risk of getting shingles increases with age.


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