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Shingles Guide

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 Comment241 Comments


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)

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
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon

I hope your doctor will take this seriously but be warned that your concerns may be dismissed. Reporting this was a great idea - the more this is reported, the better.

I hope you feel better soon


November 1, 2013 - 9:46am
EmpowHER Guest

Wow... After reading all this I am SO glad that I turned down the flu shot yesterday while at my doctor's office. I'm 54 and have had a flue shot 3 times in my life... the first time, at age 25, I got the full blown flu, as did everyone else in my office who took it... I read where they were much improved and started again three years ago... Both times, I felt puny afterward and had a burning sensation on the front of my left shin.. No rash or discoloration... So I wasn't anxious to do that again... Will NEVER get one now... Glad I didn't for a long time.

October 31, 2013 - 11:53am
EmpowHER Guest

Received a flu shot one week before developing a very itchy red papular rash under the left arm. Dr did not know what it was caused by (denied it could have been caused by the flu shot) but ordered 6 days of cortisone medication. The rashing and itching improved during the six days of cortisone treatment, bu since the cortisone treatment is done, the rash has covered my left side and is starting on the right side. It is so itchy I cannot sleep but for 1 to 2 hours a night. Dr. has ordered 6 more days of cortisone treatment. No pain, but intense itching. wondering when this will end.

October 30, 2013 - 9:48am
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