Shingles vaccine benefits older adults

Older adults who are vaccinated for shingles have about half the chance of getting this painful condition as those who aren’t vaccinated, according to a study published Jan. 12 in the Journal of the American Medial Association.

And nobody wants to get shingles, a painful skin rash also known also known as herpes zoster.

“The pain of herpes zoster is often disabling and can last for months or even years, a complication termed postherpetic neuralgia. Approximately 1 million episodes of herpes zoster occur in the United States annually, but aside from age and immunosupprsesion, risk factors for this condition are not know,” the authors wrote.

Overall, researchers found the vaccine was associated with a 55 percent reduced chance of getting shingles. They also found vaccination was associated with a reduced risk regardless of age, race or the presence of chronic disease.

The research done by Hung Fu Tseng of Southern California Kaiser Permanente, Pasadena, Calif. and colleagues evaluated the risk of herpes zoster in a community setting and involved 75,761 adults age 60 or older in a managed care organization.

The FDA approved the shingles vaccine, made by Merck and marketed under the name Zostavax, in 2006.

The authors also concluded that because the vaccine was licensed recently, the durability of its protection needs to be assessed in future studies.

“Meanwhile, however, this vaccine has the potential to annually prevent tens of thousands of cases of herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia nationally,” they wrote.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for adults 60 and older.

Read more about herpes zoster and the vaccine: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/shingles/default.htm

 

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