Immunization Matters – Shingles Vaccine (Zostavax)

Shingles vaccine (brand name Zostavax):  FDA approved for adults age 50 and older

More than 90% of all adults in the United States have had chicken pox (varicella- zoster virus) which means they are now at risk for shingles. Three out of every 10 people will suffer from shingles. The lucky ones will have just an uncomfortable rash that will go away in a few weeks. For others, the rash can last— not just weeks… but months. And there can be other complications…eye problems, skin necrosis, scarring, nerve paralysis….in some cases even pneumonia, encephalitis. Yet the pain of post herpetic neuralgia is one of the worst complications. Studies show that in people age 60 and older, the vaccine cuts cases of shingles by 50%. And if you get the vaccine and still develop shingles, it can help with the pain…overall – a nearly 40 % reduction in duration of pain. In March 2011, the FDA expanded shingles vaccine recommendation to include adults age 50 to 59. In this younger age group, the vaccine was shown to work even better and reduced risk of shingles by 70%.