Commercials for vaccinations and drugs against shingles have been increasingly appearing in recent times, leading some people to believe that cases of shingles are on the rise, including among younger individuals. The question arises: is this perception due to the influence of drug industry-sponsored advertising campaigns, or is there actually an increase in cases, potentially linked to corona vaccinations?
To address this question, a preliminary analysis based on statistical and factual data from Baden-Württemberg and the Rems-Murr district provides some insights. First and foremost, it is important to note that shingles is not a notifiable disease in most federal states, which means that all statistical information should be interpreted cautiously. The number of unreported cases could be high, and the recent attention given to the topic might also contribute to an increased willingness to seek medical help for shingles.
According to the Baden-Württemberg Association of General Practitioners, there are currently no indications of an increased incidence of shingles in practices. Dr. Suzanne Bublitz, association chairman, advises individuals who suspect shingles to visit a doctor, emphasizing that early treatment can prevent complications and severe nerve pain.
Reports from dermatological clinics and dermatologists throughout the country indicate that the current number of shingles cases remains steady or slightly increases in 2022 and 2023. However, official statistical data for these years are not available yet.
The evaluation of patient data from AOK-insured persons in Baden-Württemberg between 2017 and 2021 reveals a slight increase in the number of shingles cases nationwide. In the Rems-Murr district, the number of AOK-insured individuals receiving medical treatment for shingles went from 1,333 in 2017 to 1,412 in 2021. Throughout the country, the numbers rose from 33,734 in 2017 to 35,750 in 2021. It is worth noting that the prevalence of shingles is higher among women.
Before the corona vaccination campaign, there was already a significant increase in severe cases of shingles. A data analysis conducted by dermatologists from the University Hospital Essen reveals that the number of hospital admissions due to shingles rose from 17,333 in 2009 to 27,296 in 2019. The largest relative increase in cases was observed in the 20-40 age group.
Despite the evidence pointing to the increase in shingles cases prior to the corona vaccination campaign, some individuals, including scientists, still speculate about a causal connection. A study funded by the German Research Foundation suggests a potential link between the risk of herpes zoster and Covid-19 vaccines. The study analyzed data from over 1.1 million individuals who had received at least one dose of a corona vaccine and found that the risk of shingles was almost doubled in the two months after vaccination. However, it is important to note that infections and vaccinations, in general, can promote shingles outbreaks due to their impact on the immune system.
Furthermore, individuals who have contracted Covid-19 have a heightened risk of developing shingles. A study based on US health insurance data indicates that individuals over 50 years old have a 15 percent increased risk of shingles after being diagnosed with Covid-19. In severe cases that require hospitalization, the risk increases by 21 percent.
However, it is essential to consider other potential causes for the increase in shingles cases. The Essen dermatologists, Dr. Valeria Lebedeva and Prof. Dr. Joachim Dissemond, who conducted the study on severe cases of shingles, mentioned that increased everyday stress could also contribute to the rise in shingles cases.
In conclusion, while the exact reasons behind the increase in shingles cases are not fully understood, evidence suggests that there was already a rise in shingles cases before the corona vaccination campaign. The influence of drug industry-sponsored advertising campaigns, as well as the impact of vaccinations and infections on the immune system, may contribute to outbreaks. Other potential factors, such as increased stress, should also be considered. Further research and comprehensive data collection will be necessary to gain a clearer understanding of the situation.]
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