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Rosa Cabrera RN

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ask: Can a Flu shot lead to Shingles?

By Michelle King Robson Expert HERWriter
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dear michelle, a 76 year old friend recently had a flu shot and developed a case of shingles. any connection? coincidental? thanxs so much


Has anyone ever heard of this or had this happen to them?


Add a Comment244 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I got the flu shot last Thursday. That night and the next day the arm and should where I got the shot was sore and I felt a little woozy, which happened to me last time I got the flu shot too. Then on Saturday I started having strange back pain and a headache that worsened on Sunday in addition to contined fatigue and general malaise through Monday and Tuesday. Small bumps started showing up on my back Monday, and started turning red on Tuesday. I thought maybe I was having an allergic reaction to the flu shot so I called the clinic. Based on the symptoms I described, t hey told me they thought I had shingles, but that it had nothing to do with the flu shot, so I would need to go see my family doctor for confirmation and medication, both of which I got on Wednesday. 36 hours after staring the medication, it has actually only gotten worse. I'm only 30 and, while I have some stress in my life, I've lived through much worse and not gotten shingles, so it seems likely to me that the flu shot had some role in this.

October 30, 2014 - 9:22pm
EmpowHER Guest

After experiencing shingles following my flu shot I was wondering if there was any coincidence it could be from the flu shot. Now after reading all these testimonies, I believe it is. I got the shingles vaccine in 2009 and have had flu shots once a year since and never developed shingles. Oct. 7th, 2014 I got the flu shot at my family dr. office in my right arm. I developed a large red spot that lasted over a week. In the meantime, on October 13th I had what I thought were bug bites because were red and itched. On the 14th a little pain was surrounding those spots. I went to see my family dr. and she said could be shingles and prescribed an anti viral med for 7 days (3 times a day). On the eve of the 14th I had pain around right side of my waist (spots were on my belly) and pain on right side of my back. I could not sleep because of the discomfort from pain. On the 15th I got a few small spots in the same area and on th 16th a few more. Fortunately, with the med the pain was subsiding daily as were the spots. I did have to put a tissue between my skin and my pants to keep the discomfort at bay. Today the 22nd I am almost cured of the shingles and the pain. Glad I had had the shingles vaccine though and went to the dr. immediately.

October 22, 2014 - 10:22am

I received a flu shot on Jan. 5, 2014 and 10 days later I developed shingles. It started out as a really deep pain in my rib (I thought I had bruised it). 2 days after the pain started, the rash popped up exactly where the pain had been on my rib...then it spread to my side and back. I didn't develop the huge blisters or the bad itching...my shingles came in the form of a rash and unbearable pain that I can't even begin to describe. I went to the doctor and she did confirm that I have shingles. She put me on meds and suggested that I use capsaicin cream (which felt like liquid fire on my skin). I do not think the flu shot 'gave' me shingles, but I do think that it reactivated the virus in my body...which resulted in me developing them. I am under 40 years old and this is the second time that I've had them, too. If you also developed them after getting the flu vaccine, I would suggest that you report it to VAERS. I just submitted a form to them. Perhaps they'll take notice to the connection between the flu shot and people developing shingles. http://vaers.hhs.gov/index

January 22, 2014 - 12:19pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to maleficent)

That is exactly what is happening... the flu shot tends to activate the shingles virus. It may be more likely to happen in people who are susceptible to the shingles virus. But the connection, though there are clearly large numbers of people reporting this side affect of the flu shot, is being suppressed by the government and medical community. People have a right to know it is a possible effect of the flue shot.

I had shingles twice. I got the shingles vaccine earlier in 2012. Shortly after the flu shot, I got shingles. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I recognized the symptoms immediately and the same day got an anti-viral medication prescribed, so it was the mildest of my three outbreaks (over a period of over 20 years). But still, no more flu shots for me ever. I will take my chances with the flu. It's not worth the risk of getting shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia (a long term, extremely painful, possibly permanent, side affect of shingles which has no treatment).

January 26, 2014 - 10:04am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I got a flu shot at Rite Aide on Sat. and woke up Sunday morning with Shingles. The pharmacist gave me the shot to far up .practically in the joint where my shoulder and arm meet and it was very painful , almost like he hit a nerve. I ended up with shingles on the same side he gave me the shot. My doctors says the shot didn't cause it .. that stress does..well I have been through some very stressful events and never got shingles so Im sure the shot caused it.

October 10, 2014 - 4:26am
Michelle King Robson Expert HERWriter

Thank you all for sharing your stories of flu shots. Since we are back in flu season again here are some videos about shingles and the flu. I see so many people asking this question on the flu and shingles. This is why I love EmpowHER because it is important for all of us to share our stories. 

Here are links to two videos about shingles and the flu:  http://www.empowher.com/shingles/content/shingles-vaccine-right-you-her-health-minute-dr-connie


Here is a video about a woman who contracted shingles and what she did to treat it: http://www.empowher.com/shingles/content/shingles-caitlins-story

Does anyone have any tips for someone who has shingles on how to treat it? 

Sharing stories and advice is how we heal so please share this information and these videos with anyone who may be suffering from shingles.

November 1, 2013 - 4:19pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Michelle King Robson)

My husband had a flu shot at his school on Oct. 13. He started coughing on Oct. 15 and on Oct. 17 he had an ear ache and one spot on his head kept hurting. We thought it was sinus. Got ear drops and used them to no avail. On Friday, Oct. 24, he woke up with some red welts on his neck, thought it was bug bites. ear kept hurting and also the same side of his throat was a little scratchy. Head still ached a little at certain positions. Sunday afternoon, there were more red welts under his ear. I suspected shingles, but called the doctor Monday and went today, Tuesday. Yep, shingles! He is very fortunate that he doesn't have severe pain. Just the ear ache and little uncomfortable. I also thought of the flu shot. Of course, it would be denied that it set the shingles off.

October 28, 2014 - 5:23pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Michelle King Robson)

I am now 36. In October of 2010 I got shingles shortly after the flu shot. In January of 2011 I discovered my 5 year old son had shingles shortly after has influenza booster. I decided never to get the flu shot again.

January 8, 2014 - 5:45pm
EmpowHER Guest

My last flu shot was in 2008. Three days later I broke out in the most painful debilitating case of shingle. I went online to see if there was any connection between the flu shot and shingles and there were 100's of posts that October of 2008 with the same thing happening. No doubt in my mind. The flu shot caused my shingles. Never again for me!!

November 1, 2013 - 5:56am
EmpowHER Guest

I didn't get the shingles but my boyfriend did about a month later. I got frozen shoulder from mine. It started hurting the next day. Five weeks later, I can barely lift my arm in certain angles. I am going to go to the doctor. I filed a report to be on record with the Vaccine Adverse Event reporting system (VAERS)'

October 31, 2013 - 7:32pm
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