A new potential side effect of the vaccine has emerged a small group of people in Israel this month: so-called herpes outbreaks. But it’s not what you think it is, despite some of the headlines.

Six people developed herpes zoster after getting the Pfizer jab. Though it shares the same name, it’s not the herpes. It’s herpes zoster, a.k.a. shingles, which is a reactivation of chickenpox virus in the body.

So don’t think you’re about to cop a cold sore on your lips or tips after you get the jab, that’s simply not going to happen.

As reported by the Jerusalem Post, six people out of a sample of nearly 500 were found to have developed shingles after getting the vaccine, but researchers can’t determine whether the vaccine was the cause of the shingles.

“We cannot say the vaccine is the cause at this point,” said lead researcher Dr. Victoria Furer.

“We can say it might be a trigger in some patients.”

According to the study, the six patients who presented with herpes zoster infections were also recorded as having autoimmune diseases, and five of those patients were taking little medication for it, if at all. Dr. Furer said the fact they had mild autoimmune diseases meant they shouldn’t have been at increased risk for developing shingles, leading researchers to question if the vaccine possibly triggered the sudden infection.

Although she determined that further research, and a larger study, needs to happen to determine and prove any links of the vaccine to herpes zoster infections, Dr. Furer told the Jerusalem Post she has received emails from people all over the world who have also developed shingles after getting their vaccine.

“It seems that the reason is that there is some association,” she said.

“We should not scare people. The overall message is to get vaccinated. It is just important to be aware.”

Dr. Furer said that people who have autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases should book in to get vaccinated against shingles before going in for their COVID jab, to best protect themselves from potentially reactivating the herpes zoster virus.

Considering the Pfizer vaccine is what younger Aussies will likely be given – as the AstraZeneca jab isn’t recommended for anyone under 50 – and the Victorian government announced $50m of funding today for a Pfizer-style vaccine to be made in Melbourne, consider this a PSA to get your shingles vaccine before getting your COVID jab.

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