What The Research Says
What we do know is that when your immune system is compromised or distracted fighting off another virus, it tends to give the herpes zoster virus a chance to reactivate.
Past research has established that immune-suppressing medications like chemotherapy and corticosteroids as well as health conditions that attack your immune system like Crohns disease, HIV, and lupus increase your risk for a shingles outbreak.
Researchers are currently trying to understand whether COVID-19 may do the same thing.
Preliminary data suggests that this could be the case, but we do not know yet.
A small 2021 study involving 491 vaccinated people in Israel showed that six participants experienced shingles for the first time after getting their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. All six individuals had pre-existing conditions that lowered their natural immune response, and all six fully recovered after developing shingles.
This study prompted researchers to advocate for more studies on COVID-19 vaccines as possible triggers for the shingles virus.
Data gathered in Brazil also showed an increase of 10.7 cases of shingles per million inhabitants during the time of the pandemic.
Its impossible to know exactly how and to what extent the effect of increased stress of the pandemic and other factors played into these numbers increasing during that span of time. Stress has long been suspected to be a possible factor in developing shingles.
First Could You Describe Briefly What Shingles Is
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus which is the same virus that causes chicken pox. After you have had chicken pox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue and years later can reactivate, causing a painful rash that looks like blisters. Most often the rash appears in a line around the right or left side of your torso, but can affect any part of the body including the face and eyes. Individuals have a 20-30% chance of getting shingles during their lifetime, and it is more likely to occur when you get older. The most common complication of shingles is post herpetic neuralgia, which causes persistent pain long after the blisters have disappeared and can last for months.
Know Your Risk Of Getting Shingles And Complications
About 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime.
If youve had chickenpox, you are at risk for shingles. More than 99% of Americans born before 1980 have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember it.
Your risk of getting shingles and having serious complications increases as you get older.
About 1 in 10 people who get shingles develop nerve pain that lasts for months or years after the rash goes away. This is called postherpetic neuralgia and is the most common complication of shingles.
Shingles may lead to other serious complications involving the eye, including blindness. Very rarely, it can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, brain inflammation or death.
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Ask The Expert: Should You Get The Shingles Vaccine
If you suffered through chickenpox as a child, there is no doubt that you never want to experience that type of discomfort again. While its rare to get chickenpox twice, for many the chickenpox virus reappears years later in the form of another painful disease: shingles. In fact, there are approximately one million new cases of shingles each year. Drs. Alpana Goswami and Janna Lachtchinina, board certified internists, discuss the facts about shingles and the benefits of the shingles vaccine.
Is There Anyone Who Should Not Get The Shingles Vaccine
The shingles vaccine is a live virus and, therefore, should not be given to anyone with a weakened immune system. This includes individuals who are being treated with radiation or chemotherapy or who are on steroid medications. The vaccine also should not be given to anyone who has had a life-threatening reaction to the ingredients in the vaccine, so talk to your doctor about your specific health situation.
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Who Is Most At Risk Of Getting Shingles
Although any person who has had chickenpox can get shingles, most people who do so are older than 50 or have a weakened immune system. For example, a person might be susceptible if they have cancer, take medicines that weaken their immune system, or have HIV or AIDS, even if they are younger than 50.
Can You Get Shingles After Being Vaccinated
Shingles is a viral infection. It presents with a rash followed by an episode of intense pain in the infected area. This is caused by the virus called varicella zoster. This virus also causes chickenpox. If a child has had chickenpox, the virus may not completely go away, lie dormant in the body and come back years later as shingles. Older individuals and immunocompromised individuals are more likely to develop shingles. The shingles vaccine is generally recommended for those older than 50 years of age and immunocompromised individuals .
The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved two vaccines to effectively prevent shingles: Zostavax and Shingrix. Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia . Two doses of Shingrix are more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. The vaccine is more than 85 percent effective for at least the first four years after vaccination. It is possible to get shingles after being vaccinated since no vaccine is 100 percent effective. However, the vaccine can considerably reduce the risk and intensity of shingles episodes.
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Shingrix Vaccine Efficacy And Duration Of Protection
The efficacy of two doses of Shingrix for the prevention of herpes zoster was high among all age groups. In a clinical trial of more than 30,000 participants, vaccine efficacy was 96.6% in adults age 50 to 59 years, 97.4% in adults age 60 to 69 years, and 91.3% in adults age 70 years and older. Vaccine efficacy remained high in adults age 70 years and older, at or above 84.7% in all four years after vaccination.
The efficacy of two doses of Shingrix for the prevention of postherpetic neuralgia was high: 91.2% in adults age 50 years and older, and 88.8% in adults age 70 years and older.
Who Should Not Get Zostavax
Some people should not get shingles vaccine :
The Shingles Prevention Study involved individuals age 60 years and older and found that Zostavax significantly reduced disease in this age group. The vaccine is currently recommended for persons 60 years of age and older.
- A person who has ever had a life-threatening or severe allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of shingles vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
- A person who has a weakened immune system because of:
- HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system,
- treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids,
- cancer treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy, or
- cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma.
Someone with a minor acute illness, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. But anyone with a moderate or severe acute illness should usually wait until they recover before getting the vaccine. This includes anyone with a temperature of 101.3°F or higher.
This information was taken from the Shingles Vaccine Information Statement dated 10/06/2009.
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How Are Cvs Pharmacy And Minuteclinic Different
At Pharmacy, vaccinations for adolescents through seniors are administered by a certified immunizing pharmacist. Age and state restrictions apply. No appointment necessary.
At MinuteClinic, vaccinations for children through seniors are administered by a medical provider. View wait times and schedule a visit online, or walkâin anytime.
CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic also at Target
Can The Shingles Vaccine Be Given At The Same Visit As Other Medicines
Vaccines: The shingles vaccine can be given at the same visit as any other vaccine, including influenza and COVID-19 vaccines.Medicines: If you are taking anti-viral medicines, they should be stopped for 24 hours prior to having the shingles vaccine and for 14 days after having the shingles vaccine. Speak to your pharmacist or doctor for more information.
Mild Side Effects Of Shingles Vaccine:
- Redness, soreness, swelling, or itching at the site of the injection .
- Headache .
It is safe to be around infants and young children, pregnant women, or people with weakened immune systems after you get the shingles vaccine. There is no documentation of a person getting chickenpox from someone who has received the shingles vaccine .
Some people who get the shingles vaccine will develop a chickenpox-like rash near the place where they were vaccinated. As a precaution, this rash should be covered until it disappears.
Like all vaccines, shingles vaccine is being closely monitored for unusual or severe problems by CDC and FDA.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination. If you have a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that cant wait, call 9-1-1 or get the person to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.
Afterward, the reaction should be reported 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.
The shingles vaccine does not contain thimerosal .
This information was taken directly from the Shingles Vaccine Information Statement dated 10/06/2009.
How Do I Protect Myself From Shingles
The best protection from shingles is vaccination. People can still get shingles after receiving the varicella vaccine but they are 4 to 12 times less likely to do so than if they haven’t been immunized. The vaccine is recommended for most people 60 and older.
Some people should not receive the vaccine for example, those with certain allergies or who are taking certain medications. A health professional can advise who should not be vaccinated due to contraindications to the vaccine.
People between 50 and 59 years can request the vaccine from their health professional.
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How Does The Shingles Vaccine Work
Shingrix is a recombinant vaccine: It is made in the lab using a protein found in the outer shell of the varicella-zoster virus. The vaccine prompts the body to produce an immune response against the virus protein. This way, the immune system will recognize and fight the virus when it reactivates in the body, preventing shingles. It does not contain a weakened form of the virus, like many vaccines do.
The largest clinical trial of the vaccine, which was done in 18 countries, found that it was 97.2% effective at preventing shingles in adults aged 50 years and older. In a later trial, completed at the same locations, vaccine efficacy was 89.8% in people 70 years of age and older.
In addition to preventing shingles from developing, the vaccine offers other benefits. The small percentage of people who got shingles after receiving the vaccine in clinical trials reported less pain than did those who got the disease and were not vaccinated. Additionally, the vaccine prevented shingles-related complications in all but one person.
You might have heard about a different shingles vaccine called Zostavax that was approved in 2006. But it is no longer available as of November 2020. Fortunately, Shingrix has higher efficacy than Zostavax.
Shingrix Dosage And Schedule
Shingrix should be administered to adults age 50 years and older as a two-dose series , 2 to 6 months apart .
If more than 6 months have elapsed since the first dose of Shingrix, you should administer the second dose as soon as possible. However, you do not need to restart the vaccine series.
If the second dose is given less than 4 weeks after the first dose, the second dose should be considered invalid. A valid second dose should be administered 2 months after the invalid dose .
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If Youre 50 Or Older Get Shingrix
- Shingrix provides strong protection from shingles and long-term nerve pain.
- Get Shingrix even if you already had shingles, because you can get the disease more than once.
- Your risk of shingles and complications increases as you age.
- You need 2 doses of Shingrix. Get the second dose 2 to 6 months after you get the first dose.
Who Should Get Shingrix
Healthy adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months. You should get Shingrix even if in the past you
- had shingles
- are not sure if you had chickenpox
There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.
If you had shingles in the past, you can get Shingrix to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time that you need to wait after having shingles before you can receive Shingrix, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has gone away before getting vaccinated.
You can get Shingrix whether or not you remember having had chickenpox in the past. Studies show that more than 99% of Americans 40 years and older have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember having the disease. Chickenpox and shingles are related because they are caused by the same virus . After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body. It can reactivate years later and cause shingles.
Shingrix is available in doctors offices and pharmacies.
If you have questions about Shingrix, talk with your healthcare provider.
* A shingles vaccine called Zostavax is no longer available for use in the United States, as of November 18, 2020. If you had Zostavax in the past, you should still get Shingrix. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best time to get Shingrix.
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Know Your Shingles Risk
You can get shingles at any age if youve had chickenpox.
But older adults and those who are immunocompromised get it most often. Two-thirds of shingles cases in Canada happen to people over 50 years old. The severity of shingles and its complications also increase with age.
Age is the most important risk factor.
Very Common And Common Adverse Events
Very common adverse events occur in 10% or more of vaccinees. Common adverse events occur in 1% to less than 10% of vaccinees.
Injection site reactions are very commonly reported for both LZV and RZV. For LZV recipients the frequency is slightly higher in adults aged < 60 years. For all ages, the majority of these events were rated mild or moderate in intensity and lasted less than 2 days.
Due to the adjuvant in RZV, which induces a high cellular immune response and helps address the natural age-related decline in immunity, RZV is more reactogenic than LZV.
Injection site AEs are very commonly reported by recipients of RZV. Approximately 80% report injection-site pain and approximately 30% report redness at the site of injection.
Systemic adverse events, primarily fatigue and myalgia are common in LZV recipients and very common in RZV recipients . For RZV, they include headache .
Local and systemic reactions that were severe enough to interfere with normal activities have been more frequently reported following the receipt of RZV than LZV. However, these reactions have been temporary . Patient education on the short-term reactogenicity of the RZV is recommended prior to vaccine administration to promote adherence to the second dose.
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