It’s a shingrix kind of day

Yesterday, I got my second shot of the shingles vaccine. “Shingrix” is the right adjective to use for my late night and day — I have all of the symptoms, every one of them, struck with sledgehammer blows.

The worst was the muscle weakness. I tried to get out of bed four times, and every time I realized that the spaghetti noodles my legs had turned into couldn’t to the job, so I just flopped over and went back to my fitful sleep. If anyone is dreaming of beating me up, this would be a great day to do it.


  1. robro says

    Sorry to hear you’re having a rough time. I don’t remember that effect when I got my shingles vaccine but that’s probably due to old age forgetfulness. Sometimes I’m thankful I forget.

  2. tacitus says

    Yep, the second dose of Shingrix laid me out for 24 hours too. Definitely the worst reaction to a vaccination I can remember, but it passed swiftly enough. You should be fine tomorrow.

  3. raven says

    It will probably be worth it.

    An old friend (over 80) had a shingles attack two years ago.
    It was on his upper face and went for one of his eyes.

    What followed was 2 months of intensive antiviral therapy which consumed most of his summer.
    It ultimately worked and he recovered with only some minor persistent pain.

    It still took a lot out of him and most of 2 months of his life during the best time of the year.

  4. alkkemist says

    I lost a weekend after my first shingrix shot on a Friday. My second round was on a Tuesday so I could at least take sick leave.

  5. says

    Got those shots recently myself. Have to admit, that’s one that didn’t hit me quite that hard. Sorry you’re not feeling well PZ. This too shall pass. Good call on getting the shots, I know it’s no guarantee, just prudent.

    Be careful that cat doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity though. Nietzsche warned us about them. “Beware in the presence of cats: they never give, they do not even retaliate–they only reply, and purr in doing so.”

  6. Hemidactylus says

    I had gotten my first Shingrix (with a polio shot) less than a week of a flu and COVID shot combo. I was still feeling the aftereffects of the COVID shot, so the Shingrix didn’t even register.

    I got my second Shingrix and it definitely registered. I would rank it somewhere between a tetanus shot and COVID shot in aftereffect severity. It was not fun at all.

    Glad I went through with it though as I imagine shingles is much worse.

    You will get past this.

  7. steve oberski says

    Got my second one a few months ago, as I recall it hit me a bit harder than the first one.

    From what I’ve heard, the vaccine symptoms pale in comparison to actually getting shingles.

  8. twoangstroms says

    Hope you feel better soon, PZ. Both doses of the shingles vaccine laid me out for about a day each, but I was able to take those days off of work and just treat them as “I get to sleep whenever I want to”. Definitely body aches, but that’s nothing new to me, and I was able to sleep. In my experience, the side effects tapered off pretty quickly after the first day!

  9. brucej says

    When we got ours the second one laid out my wife; I just felt like someone took a 10 penny nail and hammered it into my shoulder for several days. My 2nd Covid shot an subsequent boosters all seem to give me ‘just lie in bed and do nothing but sllep flu-like symptoms ‘ for precisely 12 hours; it’s like clockwork. Weird.

  10. zygoptera says

    Wishing you a speedy recovery, PZ!

    The Shingrix second dose can be a real bummer but worth the protection.

  11. tacitus says

    Having COVID, flu, and RSV vaccinations together was a doddle compared with the second Shingrix shot.

  12. kenbakermn says

    PZ, I’ve always dreamed of beating you up, but frankly even in your current state you’d punt my arse and take my lunch money.

  13. Hemidactylus says

    Bad Bart @14
    Funny thing is that for hours after getting vaccinated for COVID I had wondered if they had actually injected anything. That would eventually change!

  14. says

    Yeah, I’m recovering at a good pace now. At least I’m strong enough to stand up and wobble my way to the bathroom. The window for beating me up is closing fast.
    I know how bad shingles can be. An old friend years ago was in so much pain that he he had his dorsal roots snipped to kill sensation over much of his back.

  15. jonmelbourne says

    I normally do not have much if any reaction to vaccines, but the second Shingrix (not the first) really knocked me flat.

  16. billseymour says

    Glad to hear you’re recovering, PZ.

    I don’t recall any really bad symptoms from the second shingles shot; but I got it three or four years ago, so maybe I got different stuff.

    I’ve had all my shots, including both shingles, the high-dose flu shots for old farts, and all the COVID shots (Pfizer).  Nothing gave me anything but a slightly sore arm that was gone when I woke up the next morning.  I guess I should count myself lucky.

  17. anxionnat says

    Glad you are recovering. My mom had shingles–back before a vaccine was available. We all thought she was going to die, she was that sick. And even that nightmare was not anywhere near the nightmare that I recall from when I was 8 or 9, having chickenpox. I had to take care of myself and my three younger sisters, while my parents traded off caring for my older brother, who was blind and developmentally disabled. They had to tie his hands and feet to the bed to prevent him from scratching. Imagine non-stop screaming, sounding like a wounded, dying animal, for over a week. That was around 1960 or 61, long before a vaccine. Younger people either don’t know or have never heard of the pre-vaccine horrors of things like this, or polio, or so many other diseases. So, yeah, however nasty the side effects from vaccines–any vaccines–it’s better than that.

  18. nomdeplume says

    @16 Yes, certainly not a case of cure being worse than the disease – I nearly lost my sight with shingles and had enormous pain in addition all over my head, and still bear the scars a decade later.

  19. Tethys says

    Sorry that you are spending Saturday with your immune system, rather than the spiders.

  20. chrislawson says

    Hope you make a speedy recovery. At least you won’t need any more Shingrix doses given current evidence.

  21. Daniel Storms says

    My wife and I both had the old shimgles vaccine, but after a night and 2 days in hospitalwith no-rash diffuse pain (which somehow did not add up to a 48 hour stay according to Medicare), my wife was discharged with gastroenteritis, though she was never tested for it. After 2 more days of agony, she was proscribed Acyclovir by her rheumatologist for shingles. I, thankfully, had gotten Shingrix with no adverse reactions. Which worried me somewhat, because the medication I take for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia has made my vaccine response to COVID mRNA and HepB nonexistant. The immunological system is mysterious im its ways.

  22. magistramarla says

    I had the old shingles shots in 2014. The first one laid me out and my arm was red, sore and swollen for a week.
    After the second one, I had a shingles sore from shoulder to elbow. No doctor was even interested in seeing me, let alone giving me anything to help me through the pain.
    I’m now up to date on all of my vaccines except the new Shingrix. Every time I’m almost ready to give it a try, I read something like this thread. I’m really not sure if I want to go through that again!

  23. asclepias says

    My middle sister had shingles a few years ago, in her mid-30s. I thought it was a really odd age for the disease to strike. People are usually older. In her case, it showed up around her eyes, and we were all worried about her sight. She got the vaccine as soon after that as she could!

    My mom got the vaccine a couple of days before she got sick with some tick-borne illness. She and Dad had gone to a funeral in Illinois and they had gone hiking. The timing of the vaccine was such that she didn’t worry about calling the doctor until she was throwing up and had a fever of 102. When the doctors diagnosed the illness, they freaked because it was the first case ever seen in the Wyoming/Colorado area (Mom doesn’t really trust the doctors here to check their analyses if something doesn’t seem to be right, a lesson from when my youngest sister was in the hospital in a lot of pain after a bowel resection and it turned out the staples the doc put in didn’t hold because that sister has Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome, so she relies pretty exclusively on University of Colorado Hospital).

  24. chrislawson says

    @26 — the old shingles vaccine was live attenuated, so it was possible to get a local shingles reaction around the injection site. The new vaccine is not live, it’s a recombinant copy of a viral surface glycoprotein. The new vaccine is more effective than the old one (94% vs 60% risk reduction) and lasts longer, which is why it’s recommended even for people who have already had Zostavax. Obviously it has to be antigenic to work as a vaccine so reactions are common, but for the vast majority of people these reactions are far less awful than an unmodified episode of shingles.

    To quote Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography:

    In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the smallpox taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of the parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.

  25. chrislawson says

    @24– oral acyclovir and related antivirals are ineffective if given >72 hours after onset of symptoms, so it probably made no difference to your wife’s recovery. Having said that, doctors sometimes prescribe it in desperate cases or when there is uncertainty because these drugs are safe (by pharmaceutical standards) and not absurdly expensive, so the risk of harm is low.

  26. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    My second Shingrix shot was the worst of all the recent vaccines, but paled in comparison to the six weeks of shingles about twenty years ago. I sleep better knowing I’m less likely to have a recurrence.

  27. Matt G says

    I got my first shingles shot at the same time as one of my covid boosters. Was fine for 12 hours, at death’s door for 12 hours (cold sweats, hypersensitivity to touch, etc.), then fine again. Second shingles shot was fine. I’ve never had a bad reaction to any other vaccine that I know of.

  28. KG says

    This post prompted me to look up entitlement to shingles vaccine in the UK. It’s in the process of being brought in, so since last September, anyone is eligible when they reach 65 – but if you were 65 before that, you’re not eligible until you’re 70 (which I will be in May, while Ms. KG reaches 65 earlier the same month). Seems it’s Zostivax that’s given unless you have a severely weakened immune system.

  29. WhiteHatLurker says

    I don’t recall significant after effects from shingrix, like the first poster.

    I do recall that’s it’s not covered here by the government plan, and only offered to those 50 years old (or older).

  30. Ada Christine says

    my wife had shingles a couple years ago. they put her on an antiviral medication that cleared it up in a week, but she was in pain for days. doesn’t sound enjoyable.

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