The thought of getting shingles terrifies me. My good friend, Lisa, got very sick with the disease a few years ago, and Judith Gray wrote about her shingles experience in a blog post on Friend for the Ride. Read Judith’s account here.
Yikes! Throw in the facts that one in three people will get shingles, that the risk grows as we age, and that shingles may leave you with postherpetic neuropathy, I say, “NO THANKS!”
Cliff and I got the original vaccine five years ago. Turns out that shot was only about fifty percent effective. When we heard that the new vaccine, Shingrix, is ninety percent effective, we signed up.
The vaccine is hard to come by. We put ourselves on our pharmacy’s list and waited about eight months. Then one night in the middle of dinner, the pharmacy called, telling us we needed to be there within 24 hours. I was ready to jump until I remembered friends telling me the shot made them feel sick.
I had an all-day art workshop three days later. Would I feel well enough? I decided to take my chances since if we didn’t get the shot this time, we were told we’d go to the end of the waiting list.
“Almost everyone reports a pretty sore arm,” the pharmacist told me as she swabbed my own arm an hour later. “Other reactions vary. Some people are so sick they’re on the couch all day. Others feel crumby but manage to carry on with the help of over-the-counter pain reliever.”
So here’s my report for those of you worried about reactions to the shot. I know all experiences are different.
I woke up at one AM, after having the shot at 7:30 PM, with a very sore arm and what felt like a mild flu. I took Tylenol and felt better fast. I’m a poor sleeper to start with though, and I was up four more hours before I finally went back to sleep. I felt really wired.
I spent the next day pretty tired, so it’s hard to know how much of my sluggishness was poor sleep and how much was the shot. I did take a few more doses of Tylenol over the next 24 hours.
Happily, I felt fine by the time I went to my art workshop a few days later. I did a tiny copy of Matisse’s pink lady:
Cliff got the shot the morning after I did and had the same very sore arm. He never felt as sick although he woke up in the middle of the second night feeling slightly feverish. Our sore arms lasted about three days. The arm was only sore to the touch and using that arm was no problem.
So that’s our scoop. Our reactions were not nearly as severe as I thought they might be. We take a second shot two to six months from now.