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Can You Get Shingles from the Flu Shot?

By HERWriter
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Can a Flu Shot Cause Shingles? Auremar/PhotoSpin

Can you get shingles from the flu shot?The short answer is no.

The longer answer is below, and will help you filter through the information and misinformation you might have heard about a possible connection between shingles and the flu shot.

Facts about the Flu and the Flu Shot

Health Canada describes influenza as a viral infection that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, it is estimated that between 1976 and 2007 the number of those who caught the flu ranged between a low of 3,000 to a high of 49,000 people.

During a normal flu season (October to May) 90 percent of deaths associated with the flu occur in people aged 65 years and over.(1)

The traditional flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses – the human H1N1 strain and the H3N2 strain – and one influenza B virus. The vaccines contain an inert version of the virus so that you don’t get the symptoms or pass the virus to others. However, your body develops antibodies towards those strains, giving most people complete immunity from those virus strains.

There is still the chance that you can get the flu even if you have had the flu shot. The hope is that because you’ve had the flu shot, your symptoms won’t be as severe, and the duration of your illness will be shorter than without the vaccine.

You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. Again, the flu vaccine contains a “dead” version of the virus that does not infect or cause symptoms. In some cases, people have already been exposed to the virus and don’t know it.

Symptoms can appear one to four days after exposure. It takes two weeks for your body to develop flu antibodies from the flu shot.

Facts about Shingles

Shingles is caused by a completely different virus than Influenza. It is actually caused by varicella-zoster virus -- the same virus which also causes chickenpox.

Add a Comment12 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

My husband got shingles within days of having a flu shot last year.

May 5, 2019 - 7:19pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Thanks for writing, Anon.

There certainly seems to be a connection that the medical community deny without really listening to the experiences of others. 



May 6, 2019 - 1:20pm
EmpowHER Guest

Every year, the lemmings at my job all run to get their free flu shots. They promptly come down with flu-like symptoms, miss work, and sneeze all over me. I'm always the last to get sick and it doesn't last long. I make it a point to never get a flu shot. Stay away from doctors and "free" shots. Both are bad for your health.

February 7, 2015 - 10:12pm
EmpowHER Guest

Flu shots are a waste of time

January 29, 2015 - 10:40am
EmpowHER Guest

All I can say is that we never heard of Shingles until they came out with the Chicken Pox vaccine and then the shot for Shingles. There is no doubt in my mind which came first.

January 24, 2015 - 11:47am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Shingles has been around long before the chicken pox vaccine.

March 7, 2015 - 6:47am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Darlene Oakley)

Shingles have been around for a long time. When I first started nursing 25 years ago it was so rare that we would all run in to see what it looked like. Now, it's so common we all know what it looks like. I am one of the unfortunate people who developed shingles after a flu vaccine. Axilla shingles, 3 months of severe shoulder pain. Correlation does not equal causation, but it does suggest we should look into it. As a nurse or physician you cannot question vaccines without being destroyed....maybe we should all be asking why that is?

August 28, 2018 - 7:11am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I am so glad that you were aware that shingles has been around many years before the vaccine. It is very frustrating to see comments from people who, through their own ignornace, have no understanding of the plethora of diseases and viruses that exist. I am always interested in reading and educating myself about the unknown.

February 14, 2015 - 3:05pm
EmpowHER Guest

Sounds to me like the short answer is "yes".
"No one really knows what triggers or reactivates the virus or why. "
So why can't the flu vaccine trigger it? It is perfectly plausible that it is a mechanism which triggers the shingles virus, creating an outbreak. That the FDA is not reporting this as a reported side effect is illegal and a cover up in my opinion.
Nor more flu vaccines for me, ever. Better to get the flu than deal with post-herpetic neuralgia for the rest of my life!

December 8, 2014 - 3:09pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

There's a difference between saying something "causes" a disease or illness and triggering them. Shingles is not "caused" by the flu shot. The article was meant to address the question, does the flu shot cause Shingles, and the answer is no. Shingles is caused by a completely different virus.

January 25, 2015 - 3:31pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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