New Shingles Vaccine For Seniors, Does It Work?
Shingles is a painful itching rash caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same bug behind chickenpox. The virus lies dormant in the nerve tissue of people who’ve had chickenpox, and years later can reactivate itself. Anyone who’s had chickenpox can develop shingles, but about half of all cases occur in people 60 and older, according to the CDC. This disease afflicts about one of every three people in this age group.
Shingles New Vaccine: FDA Approval
The FDA approved a new shingles vaccine for seniors, age 60 and up, last week. The new vaccine, Shingrix, is recommended even for those already inoculated with the older vaccine. In addition, the FDA recommended that adults 50 and up also get re-vaccinated.
Shingrix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, is more than 90 percent effective.
Shingrix is 97 percent effective in preventing shingles in people 50 to 69 years old, and 91 percent effective in those 70 and older, according to a briefing provided to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices prior to its decision last week.
By comparison, Zostavax, the current vaccine, is only 70 percent effective in your 50s; 64 percent effective in your 60s; 41 percent effective in your 70s; and 18 percent effective in your 80s, the briefing states.
Shingrix is also better than Zostavax in preventing nerve pain that continues after a shingles rash has cleared. For example, it is 90 percent effective versus 65 percent effective, the briefing stated.
Shingrix is a non-live herpes zoster vaccine that contains a booster intended to generate a strong and long-lasting immune response. That booster and the fact that the vaccine is a two-dose series is likely why it has superior protection compared to the current Zostavax vaccine.