Don't get that shingles vaccine just yet, because a new and improved vaccine for shingles will be available in the next few months!

Shingles, the adult version of our childhood chickenpox, can be a painful illness before, during, and long after the actual skin rash is present. *see additional discussion below

Approximately 12 years ago,the first vaccine for prevention of shingles, known as Zostavax, became available for use by adults over the age of 60 years. 

Follow up research on the Zostavax vaccine showed that:

  • It is approximately 50% effective in adults age 60 years. 
  • The protection from the vaccine began to weaken after 3 years.  
  •  Prevention of post infection pain syndrome was 67% 
  • Older age at the time of vaccination was associated with lower levels of protection for even shorter duration of time.  
  • Individuals with immune system disorders, taking immunosuppressant medications, or receiving cancer treatments are not able to use this vaccine because it is a live vaccine. 
  • Live Vaccine

Continued vaccine research efforts have led to the development of a new vaccine for shingles called Shingrex.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC)”s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) had voted in favor of this new vaccine, and The Food and Drug Administration ( FDA) has approved its use.

The new Shingrex immunization consists of 2 doses administered 2-6 months apart, and has a number of advantages over the older vaccine.  

  • The Shingrex vaccine is indicated for adults over the age of 50 years. 
  • Clinical trials showed the vaccine is greater than 90% effective in all groups. 
  • Vaccine protection against the shingles related pain syndrome is approximately 89% in Individuals age 70 years.  
  • Shingrex is NOT a live vaccine like the zostavax vaccine therefore, individuals with a weakened immune system can safely receive the new vaccine. 
  • Shingrex will most likely be recommended for individuals who have already had the zoster vaccine in the past. 

Stay tuned for more details!

*VZV, varicella zoster virus, is the virus that causes the disease commonly known as chickenpox. Historically, this was a disease of childhood until the development of a vaccine known as varicella vaccine which is administered to children over one year old. Regardless of weather you had this disease as a child or received the varicella vaccine, this virus remains in our bodies for life. Most often the virus is dormant however,it can become active in our adult years causing a different form of VZV disease known as shingles.

Learn more about SHINGLES in the MSU Healthe-guide

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