Getting shingles isn't fun, to put it mildly.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (the same virus that causes chickenpox).
...Generally, people only develop shingles once, although it is possible to get shingles more than once. Shingles may lead to long-term complications such as debilitating pain that lasts for months or even years. In rare cases, serious, long-term eye or hearing issues can occur.
My wife, Laurel, and I are 69 and 70, respectively. We'd gotten the original Shingles vaccine, Zostavax, but we wanted to get the new and improved vaccine, Shingrix, because it is much more effective at preventing shingles.
The most common side effects of SHINGRIX are:
Pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site
Severe allergic reactions are less common and include: hives, swelling of the face/throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. If you experience any of these reactions, seek medical attention immediately.
You're supposed to get two Shingrix doses, with the second ideally two to six months after the first dose. Problem is, there's a shortage of Shingrix.
We lucked out when we went to our local Walgreens a couple of months ago and were told they had two doses left. So Laurel and I each got vaccinated, a few minutes apart.
But Laurel had much more severe side effects after taking the first dose.
My arm was just really sore. However, this didn't prevent me from sleeping more or less normally. Laurel, though, had a really bad night. She barely slept, being beset with uncontrollable shivering that, not surprisingly, put a big dent in her quality sleep time.
A few days ago we reached the two-month mark after getting the first dose of Shingrix. So I optimistically headed to the same Walgreens and said I wanted to get the second dose. The reply: We've been ordering it for weeks, but haven't got any more doses. So keep on coming back, since we can't be sure when we'll get additional doses.
The next day Laurel started calling drug stores and pharmacies here in Salem, Oregon. The responses were discouraging. Some drug stores had a waiting list as long as six months. Nobody had Shingrix in stock. Except...Costco.
Laurel was told that the Costco pharmacy would save two doses for her and me. When we went to the Salem Costco yesterday, the pharmacist who gave us the Shingrix shots told us that Costco is prioritizing doses for their customers who have gotten the first dose.
Which makes sense, since while one dose probably is better than nothing, the effectiveness of Shingrix is at least 90% if two doses are given, again, ideally two to six months apart.
Pleasingly, the pharmacist told us that Costco also allocates a few doses for people who got their first dose at a non-Costco pharmacy, but are having difficulty locating a second dose. (We're Costco members, but we hadn't used the Costco pharmacy until yesterday.)
So when we left Costco yesterday afternoon, both of us were happy that we'd managed to get a second dose of Shingrix. But if you'd asked either of us how we felt after we went to bed, our feelings would have been different.
Almost as soon as I turned the light out, I started to feel really weird. Soon I was feeling chilled, even though the heat was set to 67 degrees. I also started shivering uncontrollably. Both side effect symptoms persisted after I turned the heat up to 71 degrees, though I didn't feel quite as chilled.
Neither of us slept much, if at all. It was one of the worst nights of my life, and the same was even more true for Laurel. In addition to the chills and shivering, she felt nauseous and just about every part of her body ached. Really bad.
For most of today I've felt more or less normal, aside from being tired from lack of sleep. But Laurel's side effects persisted. They're only supposed to last 2-3 days, so hopefully she'll be feeling better tomorrow, which is Thanksgiving.
Understand: in no way do we regret getting the Shingrix shots. Getting shingles would be much more painful and distressing than suffering for a day or two after getting a dose of Shingrix.
Everybody is different with regard to side effects.
And for some reason I had little problem with the first dose, but a big problem with the second dose. Just keep this in mind if you get Shingrix vaccinations. If it's possible to do this on a day where you don't have to function well the next day, that'd be a wise thing to do.