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Covid-19 vaccine could possibly ‘trigger’ herpes infection in rare cases – study

Researchers have discovered through an Israeli study that a herpes infection could be triggered by Covid-19 vaccinations for certain patients with underlying conditions.

The study identified six individuals who developed a rash known as herpes zoster after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. Five developed the rash after their first dose of the vaccination, and the sixth developed it after the second dose. 

Herpes zoster causes a red, itchy rash to develop on the skin and it could eventually lead to complications such as nerve damage.

Researchers from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Carmel Medical Center in Haifa found the risk of developing herpes zoster, also known as shingles, likely increases for patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases (AIIRD).

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The six who developed the herpes infection all had mild cases of autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases and were below the age of 50. 

The potential risk still remains relatively small as only 1.2% of the 491 patients looked at by researchers actually developed the infection. 

Lead researcher Dr. Victoria Furer also told the Jerusalem Post that the Pfizer vaccine cannot be looked at as the sure “cause” of the infections. 

“We cannot say the vaccine is the cause at this point,” she said. “We can say it might be a trigger in some patients.”

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Furer added that people should still get vaccinated, but patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases should get vaccinated for herpes zoster before their Covid inoculations. 

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

Furer said further research is needed to concretely link the herpes zoster outbreaks with the Pfizer vaccine, but she has already received emails from patients around the world reporting similar infections.

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