Today's Medicine

New Shingles Vaccine Safer, More Effective

New recommendations

For years, I have recommended the shingles vaccine for those over the age of 60. Now, there’s a new, safer, more effective vaccine for people of all ages.

The vaccine, Shingrix, was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe and effective for adults 50 years and older. It is used to prevent the herpes zoster (shingles) virus, and its makers say it’s a big step forward when it comes to vaccine development.

What is shingles?

Shingles is a virus that causes a painful rash. The rash usually develops on one side of the body – often on the face or torso – and it can last anywhere from a week to several months. The risk and severity of shingles increases with age as the immune system loses the ability to mount a strong and effective attack on the virus. 

Shingrix effectiveness

Shingrix was developed specifically to overcome the age-related decline in immunity. The way it works helps to generate a strong and long-lasting immune response by the body. Research shows Shingrix is 90 percent effective at preventing shingles in adults over the age of 50. The previous shingles vaccine, an annual vaccine called Zostavax, reduced the risk of developing shingles by 51 percent.

The Shingrix vaccine is given in two doses, with a 2- to 6-month wait between immunizations. It is recommended for anyone over the age of 50, including those who previously received the Zostavax vaccine.

"You should get a shingles vaccine whether or not you have previously had shingles or chickenpox, which is caused by the same virus as shingles. There is no specific length of time you must wait after having shingles before receiving shingles vaccine, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated." 

Dr. Sasan Gholami
Methodist Physicians Clinic infectious disease specialist

More questions?

If you have any questions about Shingrix or the shingles virus, I will be happy to see you at the Methodist Physicians Clinic Infectious Disease Clinic.

About the Author

As a board-certified physician in infectious diseases, Dr. Sasan Gholami works with patients to get to the root of their health care concerns.

You can visit Dr. Gholami with questions about infectious disease and travel health at Methodist Physicians Clinic Infectious Disease Clinic.

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