Covid vaccine and shingles: What are the symptoms of shingles? What causes it?

This Morning: Dr Chris explains symptoms of shingles

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Covid vaccines have enabled international leaders to breathe a little easier, as the finished candidates have proven effective at preventing more than 90 percent of infections. And most have encountered few issues with their rollout, although some countries have performed better than others. Despite uptake, the jab is still new, and health officials have had to dispel circulating side effect rumours.

What causes shingles?

A small study published in the journal Rheumatology by Israeli researchers noted cases of shingles in six patients.

They made up just 1.2 percent of the 491 vaccine recipients, but several headlines inferred a connection between shingles and the Pfizer jab.

Shingles is an often severe condition that affects nerves under the skin caused by the herpes zoster virus.

The patients who developed shingles were all women with stable autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases (AIIRD).

Due to this condition, they had not received the shingles or chickenpox vaccine, and they were on immunosuppressant drugs.

As such, any vaccine could have made them susceptible to shingles, and scientists haven’t drawn a causal relationship between shingles and the jab.

Nina Shapiro, Director of Pediatric Otolaryngology at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), said: “The study design is not structured to determine a causal relationship between [COVID-19] vaccination and HZ [herpes zoster].”

What are the symptoms of shingles?

All but one of the women who developed shingles had a mild infection.

Herpes-zoster can cause a range of symptoms, ranging from mild to potentially severe.

Most of the time, people who develop the disease will experience a painful rash band that wraps around their body.

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Symptoms of shingles include:

  • Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
  • Touch sensitivity
  • An inflamed, red rash that begins a few days after the pain
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break and crust over
  • Itching
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigue

In some circumstances, people who contract shingles will need to visit a doctor.

The following situations should warrant a checkup:

  • A painful shingles rash develops around the eyes
  • If the patient is 60 or older (making them more likely to risk complications)
  • If the patient has a weakened immune system
  • The painful rash has grown widespread

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