Lest you have doubts about the value of this vaccine, consider the effects of shingles. It is a painful infection of a single sensory nerve on one side of the body that can occur almost anywhere but most commonly involves the torso or face. Initial symptoms of tingling or burning pain within days develop into a red bumpy rash and very painful blisters.
Children vaccinated against chickenpox had a 78 percent lower rate of shingles than their unvaccinated peers.
Federal officials have recommended a vaccine against shingles that is more effective than an earlier version at protecting older adults from the painful rash. But persuading many adults to get this and other recommended shots continues to be an uphill battle, health providers say.
If you’ve had chickenpox, you are at risk for shingles. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that adults 50 and older who have had chickenpox get two doses of the shingles vaccine Shingrix (recombinant zoster vaccine), separated by two to six months.
The vaccine offered 98 percent protection in the first year and that protection remained at 85 percent or higher three years after vaccination — stronger protection than the only other shingles vaccine on the market, Merck’s Zostavax.
The good news about the shingles vaccine, recommended for all adults age 60 or older with normal immune systems, is that it works even better than scientists first thought.
Hopefully, this vaccine will reach the market at a reasonable cost, and will allow those too old to have benefited from the chickenpox vaccine to avoid the misery of shingles.
In a large randomized trial, researchers have found that a newly developed shingles vaccine is about twice as effective as the one currently in use.
No one who has experienced the burning, stabbing, painful misery of shingles wants to think about it again. But they should. Why? Because shingles can strike twice, or rarely, even a third time. A shingles vaccine can reduce the chances of a recurrence.
The two diseases are caused by the same virus but strike different groups of people.
SHINGRIX is an FDA-approved vaccine for the prevention of shingles (herpes zoster) in adults 50 years and older.
SHINGRIX is not used to prevent chickenpox.
Your risk of shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) increases as you get older. CDC recommends that people 60 years old and older get shingles vaccine to prevent shingles and PHN.
Shingles vaccine has been used since 2006. Zostavax® is the only shingles vaccine currently approved for use in the United States. This vaccine reduces the risk of developing shingles by 51% and PHN by 67%. It is given in one dose as a shot, and can be given in a doctor’s office or pharmacy.