Vaccine

Shingles after vaccination extremely rare but should never go unreported

B.C.’s Medical experts seek more answers for this rare side-effect

Northern Health is asking anyone who feels they have developed Shingles after their first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to report symptoms to their local health authority as medical experts seek to learn more from vaccine-related cases.

A Burns Lake resident under 30 years old did contract shingles shortly after receiving both vaccination for coronavirus.

“We’re still very much working on trying to understand what’s happening with the vaccine and how best to support everyone,” said Dr. Rakel Kling, Medical Health Officer with Northern Health, B.C.

According to Dr. Kling, it is plausible that vaccination for coronavirus causes the reactivation of the chicken-pox virus, which lies dormant in the body for life. This reactivation occurs as the immune system is temporarily left with fewer resources to combat illness as it engages with the vaccine.

“Pre-existing Shingles could resurface because the body is working so hard to react to the vaccine, which is what we want it do,” said Dr. Kling.

She also stated that while many people believe illnesses or reactions are caused by vaccines, the recurrence of Shingles after vaccination may be purely coincidental. Someone may be experiencing a flare-up, but it just happened to occur in proximity to the time they were vaccinated. Still, there is not enough data available to distinguish between coincidence or causation, according to Dr. Kling.

Such few cases have been reported to Northern Health that they are not yet able to comment on the severity of vaccine-related Shingles or recommend any precautions to the public. They have yet to determine why one individual is more likely to have this side-effect over another.

“We recommend that anyone who feels they are experiencing Shingles or any symptom after the vaccine to just report it. The more that we know about it, the more that we can study and track,” said Dr. Kling.