Zostavax, a live attenuated virus vaccine to prevent shingles, has been FDA-approved for people in their 50s.
It was originally approved in 2006 for people 60 and older.
“The likelihood of shingles increases with age. The availability of Zostavax to a younger age group provides an additional opportunity to prevent this often painful and debilitating disease, “ said Dr. Karen Midthun, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
Extending vaccine approval was based on a study conducted in the U.S. and four other countries with 22,000 people ages 50-59. Half received Zostavax and half received a placebo. The vaccine was found to reduce the risk of developing shingles by about 70 percent, according to the FDA.
Shingles — characterized by a rash of blisters and pain — is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After chickenpox, it remains dormant in the body but can reappear later as shingles, especially due to aging or a weakened immune system.