If you’re about to hit 50 (or you’re over 50), it’s time to get both your shingles shots. Why? you ask. Especially since I’m telling you it made me so sick. Here’s why: because one out of every three people in the U.S. will eventually develop shingles if they are not vaccinated.
At my last physical, my doctor asked me to get re-immunized against shingles with the recently approved Shingrix vaccine. It’s much more effective than previous vaccines but it has to be administered in two separate doses (from two to six months apart).
I got my first shot in late October and on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve as I walked past Duane Reade, I thought “let me get this whole shingles thing out of the way before we head into 2020.”
Fortunately, my New Year’s Eve plans consisted of nothing more than a night at home – in peaceful solitude – with some great wine and a delicious cheese plate.
While the first shot left me with little more than an achy arm, I was not so lucky the second time around. By early evening, I was running a 102 fever, had a horrible headache, and my arthritis was acting up (joint pain is one of the side effects of Shingrix I learned). As you can imagine, my New Year’s Eve was a bust!
I was in bed by nine, sick as a dog.
Next day, same thing (Happy New Year!).
I took an Advil at around noon when my temperature hit 101. I had no appetite and once again, nasty headache. However, by early evening I was starting to feel better. And by the end of the day, the side effects had passed. So all in all, I was down for the count for 1 day. Not too bad.
In doing some research, I discovered that this is par for the course for this newest vaccine. One in six people who get Shingrix shots, suffer from some kind of flu-like side effects. But they go away within 1-3 days. No explanation, however, for why there were no side effects the first time around.
Shingrix is much more powerful and fully effective for up to 4 years versus prior vaccines.
So, despite the side effects, it is absolutely worth getting the shots. The benefits far outweigh the short-lived side effects.
And if you have been vaccinated for shingles in the past, remember it only lasts a few years so it’s probably time to get revaccinated. Just make sure you don’t have anything urgent scheduled for the next day!!