Some Confusing Symptoms of the Shingles Vaccine for Flu Shot When Received on the Same Day

Americans who get their flu and shingles vaccines at the same time are less likely to come back and get their routine influenza shot again a year later, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University Medical School, both in Boston, Massachusetts, found that the strategy of giving Americans their injections right away could incidentally lower vaccination rates.

They found that older Americans who got their flu and shingles vaccinations together were five percent less likely to return the next year to get their flu shot.

While they can’t pinpoint a reason, they think it’s because people misinterpret the severe symptoms of the shingles jab for the flu shot and are put off by it.

Researchers found that people who got their shingles vaccine and flu shot together were 5% less likely to come back in the following year to get a flu shot. They think this could be because people misinterpreted the side effects of the shingles shot as being caused by the flu shot (file photo)

The shingles vaccine, also called the zoster vaccine (pictured), is a two-dose injection for people over the age of 50.  Doses are taken two to six months apart

The shingles vaccine, also called the zoster vaccine (pictured), is a two-dose injection for people over the age of 50. Doses are taken two to six months apart

Researchers collected data from the 2018 and 2019 flu seasons for the study, avoiding the pandemic period, when very few Americans got their annual flu shot.

The team, which published their findings Friday in JAMA network opened, collected data from nearly 90,000 local residents who received both flu and shingles or zoster vaccines in 2018.

People 50 years of age or older are recommended to receive the shingles vaccine in two doses, with each injection two to six months apart.

The side effects of the injection can be widespread, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that it can affect a person’s ability to perform routine tasks for two to three days.

‘Most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after getting [the shot]and some also had redness and swelling where they got the injection. Some people felt tired, had muscle aches, headaches, chills, fever, stomach pain or nausea.” CDC writes.

Many people who get their shingles vaccine get their flu shot at the same time because doctors recommend it to them in an effort to save time and increase vaccination coverage.

Of the study population, more than 27,000 received both shots simultaneously, while 62,000 received both shots, but on different occasions.

A year later, the shingles injection regimen would have been completed, but people would be expected to come back for their flu shot.

Researchers found that 91 percent of people who received their flu shot separately from the shingles vaccine in 2018 returned the following flu season.

However, those who got their injections together the following year were less likely to come back: Only 87 percent of recipients got the flu shot in 2019.

Researchers believe that the potentially intense side effects of the shingles vaccine have also kept some people from getting the flu shot.

Shingles is a condition that affects people who previously had chickenpox.  It causes a person to get a rash.  It is rarely fatal.  Pictured: Rash Caused by Shingles

Shingles is a condition that affects people who previously had chickenpox. It causes a person to get a rash. It is rarely fatal. Pictured: Rash Caused by Shingles

“One possible explanation is that some patients have misattributed the systemic side effects of the zoster vaccine to the flu vaccine,” researchers wrote.

‘It may be preferable to administer these’ [two] vaccines separately or improve patient education about expected side effects of vaccines.’

Another possible explanation is that people only got their flu shot because they got it when they got the shingles vaccine, and stopped caring about the standard vaccine once they already got the shingles vaccine.

Shingles is a virus that can affect people who have had chickenpox in childhood.

While the exact cause of the condition is not known, the virus will reactivate in a person’s body and cause them to develop a skin rash.

The risk of death from shingles is very low, but it can be fatal for people with weakened immune systems.

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