Shingles after spouse got vaccine
April 30, 2024 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Abour a week and a half ago, my spouse got his second dose of Shingrix. Today I have shingles.

The nurse practitioner said "yeah, that happens", and that anecdotally she's seen the situation before, including one case where the unvaxxed spouse with no prior history of infection came down with chickenpox. Crazy anti-vax woo, or plausible outcome of our mysterious immune systems? NB: We are very pokemon about vaccines in this household ("collect em all") and that won't be changing, just curious.
posted by stray to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's coincidence explained by woo.

Shingrix isn't an "attenuated" or "live" vaccine, and you can't catch shingles by standing next to somebody who's had a shot of it.
posted by mhoye at 3:54 PM on April 30 [20 favorites]

This is not possible with Shingrix, but was with Zostavax in the past.
posted by knapah at 3:55 PM on April 30

Possible with Zostavax but not Shingrix according to Mayo Clinic . It’s possible she’s thinking of Zostavax but it shouldn’t apply to Shingrix.

More detailed info on shingles and the vaccine here, which suggests the same.
posted by brook horse at 3:56 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]

A clarification: if what you have is chickenpox (having never had it before), this would have been possible with the old vaccine, and is no longer possible. If what you have is actually shingles, i.e. a reactivation of the chickenpox virus that is dormant in your nervous system from a childhood infection, this is completely impossible under any vaccine circumstances. Shingles is not person to person contagious to people who have had chickenpox, it can only happen by reactivation; when it spreads to people who haven't had chickenpox, it doesn't cause shingles (but rather adult chickenpox).

My deepest sympathies, I had shingles as a 40-something adult a few years ago and it was awful. I completely understand the inclination to try to find something to blame.
posted by advil at 6:02 PM on April 30 [12 favorites]

Yeah, I think the important thing to keep in mind here is that the initial infection of shingles is what we call chicken pox. Both are caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Shingles is latent varicella-zoster virus reactivating years after the initial (chicken pox) infection.

For example, people with shingles can shed virus/be infectious...but if they infect someone else who has never had varicella-zoster virus before, the person they infect gets chicken pox. They don't go straight to shingles.

If you got shingles, it's your long-latent (likely childhood) infection with varicella-zoster virus reactivating.
posted by pullayup at 6:15 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]

Just wondering: you didn't mention whether you were vaccinated for shingles or not (though you DID say you "collect 'em all" regarding vaccines, you didn't mention Shingrix specifically).
posted by TimHare at 10:33 PM on May 2

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