COVID-19 increases chance of getting shingles; doctors advise getting both vaccines

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As the nation focuses on the COVID-19 vaccine, there is another vaccine doctors want you to get, especially if you’re over 55.

Doctors say your chances of developing shingles will increase dramatically if you’ve had COVID-19. They’re strongly advising people to get vaccinated against shingles.

Shingles is a reactivation of chickenpox that ravages the body with extremely painful blisters, and it tends to linger. Those who have had chickenpox can develop shingles later in life. The virus lives in your system and will remain dormant until there’s an outbreak, which can be triggered by stress and a weakened immune system, which is exactly what doctors have reported seeing in COVID-19 patients.

“COVID increases your risk of getting shingles and the more severe your COVID, the greater the risk of shingles,” said Dr. John Greene, an infectious diseases expert at Moffitt Cancer Center with more than four decades of experience.

He says people should get both the COVID-19 and shingles vaccine, and advises patients to wait at least two weeks between shots.

“It is in your favor to get the [shingles] vaccine,” Greene said. “Anyone over 65 should definitely get the shingles vaccine, and they’re even exploring giving it to younger ages, 60 and over, even 55 and over.”

Greene also warns shingles can increase the risk of strokes.

“They’ve found out if you’ve had shingles, there’s a higher risk in the next months you could have a stroke because the shingles virus irritates the blood vessels to your brain,” Greene said.

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