I got my vaccine on a Friday, felt headachy and rundown all weekend. By Tuesday I was getting an outbreak. I hadn't had one in a pretty long time and I take acyclovir when I do. Coincidence or a side effect of the vaccine?
If empirical evidence means anything the same thing happened to me. I got a type 2 outbreak within 24 hours of the shingles vaccine. I agree that they are not the same virus but it's quite possible that the shingles vaccine put a strain on our immune systems and caused a type 2 outbreak. Interestingly, my cycle of outbreak was every two months but I haven't gotten an outbreak since the shingles vaccine over a year ago. I can't find any studies on this but for what it's worth.
I have had genital herpes so long that the outbreaks were few and far between, yrs between. Since getting the shingles vaccine it seems I have been getting one outbreak after another. At least one every other month and worse then I used to get them and sometimes in more then one area at a time.
I had the shingles vaccine a few weeks ago and started breaking out in my genital area. I have had fever blisters on my lips from time to time during my lifetime, but have never had an outbreak in my genital area. My OB-GYN doctor put me on Valtrex a few days ago. He did a culture and I am waiting for the results.
I just read a study done in France on a small number of subjects who had herpes simplex 1 or 2 or both. Half were given the anti varicella zoster vaccine used for shingles prevention and all 24 of them were cured of the Herpes 1 and 2 outbreaks over the next 6 years of follow up.
Shingles, caused by the chicken pox virus, is not the same virus (actually, two viruses) that cause herpes. However, chicken pox, herpes simplex 1, and herpes simplex 2 are all members of the same viral family, herpesviridae. Other members of the family include the Epstein-Barr virus (which causes mononucleosis) and cytomegalo virus. This means that these viruses are closely related.
Herpes anti-viral medication can be used to treat outbreaks of shingles, indicating that the viral replication among herpesviridae members is very similar in all viruses.
The shingles vaccine is a live, attenuated vaccine. What this means is that you are receiving a weakened virus that will trigger a response in your immune system, allowing your acquired immune system to build antibodies against the chicken pox virus (since that's what causes shingles). In about 1 in 70 people, the injection can cause a headache, and approximately the same number of people get very small chickenpox blisters near the site of the injection.
All of this is lead-in to say, "no one really knows, but it doesn't seem likely". The only reason anyone gets chickenpox blisters after getting the vaccine is because they receive a weakened live virus that can cause the blisters. You didn't get more herpes virus, and the antibodies for the two viruses are almost certainly different enough that your body couldn't devote the antibodies it normally produces to fight your herpes virus to fight the varicella (chickenpox) virus. However, it's possible that in fighting the new exposure to varicella, your immune system didn't keep up with its fight against herpes, and the herpes virus was able to start replicating again.
In order to tell what really happened, immunologists would have to do a double blind placebo study to determine whether people with herpes who get a shingles vaccine a) are responding to the contents of the vaccine as opposed to the stress/"nocebo" effect of getting a shot, and b) if their immune system drops the ball in the fight against herpes in order to pick up the fight against varicella.
The good news is that once your body has responded to the shingles vaccine, you get extra protection against herpes. You should be able to expect fewer outbreaks and less pain during an outbreak. And the same, of course, goes for shingles.
- Acyclovir Information for Consumers
- Acyclovir Information for Healthcare Professionals (includes dosage details)
- Side Effects of Acyclovir (detailed)
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