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A NEW IMPROVED SHINGLES SHOT
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A new vaccine to protect against shingles could offer almost DOUBLE the protection for older adults compared with the one currently in use.

Zostavax, the old vaccine, reduces the risk of shingles by an average of 51%, but it becomes less effective as people age.  It has a success rate of 70% for people ages 55-59, but that drops to 64% for those in their 60's, 41% for those in their 70's, and only 18% for those ages 80 and older.

In comparison, Shingrix, which was approved by the FDA last October, reduces the risk of shingles by an average of 97% among adults age 50 and older, with a success rate above 90% across all individual older age groups, according to a study published in the Sept. 15, 2016, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

"The first vaccine, Zostavax, had two main problems: it was not that great in older people, and not enough people who needed the vaccine got it," says Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander, director of the Nerve Unit at Harvard-afficliated Massachusetts General Holpital.

So far the studies on Shingrix have lasted only four years.  "Longer studies are still needed to determine if repeat vaccinations may be needed down the road, such as after 10 or 20 years," says Dr. Oaklander.

Shingrix is given in two doses at least eight weeks apart.  As with most vaccinations, it may cause temporary side effects like swelling or inflammation at the injection site or flu-like symptoms for a few days.

The FDA has approved Shingrix for people ages 50 and older, even if they already had shingles or were previously vaccinated with Zostavax.  The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recently voted in favor of making this a formal recommendation.

People with especially weak immune systems, such as those with cancer, should ask their doctor if they need to avoid Shingrix; but, for most older adults, the new shingles vaccine is an opportunity to avert a potentially serious disorder.

"Shingles is a neurological disease that is almost entirely preventable-but only if you get vaccinated," says Dr. Oaklander.

(This is part of an article posted in the Harvard Medical School Newsletter).  As with anything we post here, please see your primary care physician for further counsel.  They know you best!!

 

Working for you through Christ,

Jackie Kelley RN


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