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Last updated on Jun 23rd, 2021 at 11:50 am

There are many questions and fears around the COVID-19 vaccine. The health community temporarily halted the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after recipients developed life-threatening blood clots that claimed the life of one woman in America.

The roll-out of the J&J vaccine was continued, but shortly afterwards reports claimed that another side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine was herpes. This side effect was linked to the vaccine produced by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Although many have rubbished the reports, a case series published by Rheumatology has linked the vaccine to herpes zoster, which is commonly known as shingles. 

Herpes zoster is not an STI

Reports linking the COVID-19 vaccine to herpes caused discomfort among many. People who believed the vaccine would lead to an STI infection. 

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted virus. It can cause painful blisters on the genitalia of both men and women. 

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While there is no cure for genital herpes, the blisters usually heal and go away on their own and medication can ease the symptoms and stop the infection from progressing. According to, people with genital herpes can get treatment but may experience reoccurring outbreaks of the symptoms. 

Herpes zoster, which has been linked to the vaccine, on the other hand, is not sexually transmitted and is actually related to chickenpox.

Herpes zoster occurs when the varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox is reactivated. Medscape says symptoms of this ‘reactivation’ are usually limited to a rash that can be painful for a few days. 

Why does the COVID-19 vaccine cause shingles?

Although the study, done in Tel Aviv, Isreal found that 6 patients all with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases developed shingles after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, researchers told The New York Post that their findings did not conclusively show that the vaccine caused shingles. The researchers still advised people to get vaccinated even after the finding of their study. 


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Shortly after the rollout was continued in many countries reports claimed that another side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine was herpes. This side effect was linked to the vaccine produced by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.