Shingles vaccine for 50-somethings

Shingles vaccine for 50-somethings

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.

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