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“Shingles Vaccine (Shingrix) Now Available”

Shingles is a reactivation of an original chickenpox infection that travels down a nerve dermatome and causes rash and pain. It’s a common infection and roughly 1 in every 1000 people every year in the United States will suffer shingles, and about 1 in 3 people in the United States will suffer shingles in their lifetime. Usually, shingles occurs in those > 65 years of age. The pain of shingles is severe. It’s right up there with corneal abrasions, labor and delivery, and kidney stones. The first shingles vaccine was licensed and recommended in 2006. It’s called Zostavax® and is a live, weakened form of the chickenpox (varicella) virus. The efficacy of Zostavax against rash was about 51%; the efficacy against postherpetic neuralgia (the pain associated with shingles) was about 67%. In October 2017, another shingles vaccine, called Shingrix, was licensed and recommended. The efficacy of Shingrix against rash, is in the mid- to high 90% range. The side effect profile for systemic side effects (fever, myalgia, chills) is somewhat worse for Shingrix than for Zostavax. In clinical trials of more than 30,000 people, Shingrix was not associated with serious adverse events. About 1 in 10 people who got Shingrix reported systemic effects that limited activity, such as myalgia, fatigue, headache, shivering, fever, or gastrointestinal illness. CDC recommends Shingrix® (recombinant zoster vaccine) as preferred over Zostavax® (zoster vaccine live) for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles).

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