ZOSTAVAX could prevent two thirds of shingles cases, expert says
THURSDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- All adults aged 60 and older should be vaccinated against shingles, a condition that can cause debilitating chronic pain, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Thursday.
This new recommendation replaces the agency's provisional recommendation, made in 2006, after the ZOSTAVAX vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"The publication of these guidelines will give an impetus to the use of shingles vaccine," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine and a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and vice president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
In addition, it may get health insurance companies to start covering the cost of the vaccine, Schaffner said. "Also, it will give physicians some stimulus to use this vaccine more extensively than they have to date," he said.
The new recommendation was published in the May 15 online edition of the Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report.
Schaffner thinks getting vaccinated is very important. "There are about 1 million cases of shingles that occur each year in the United States," he said. "Half of these occur in people aged 60 and older."
Moreover, 50 percent of those who live to 85 will have shingles, Schaffner said. "Shingles is very common and ranges from mild to very severe and disabling," he said.
However, people who have an immunodeficiency disease should not be vaccinated, Schaffner added.
In evaluating the vaccine, known as ZOSTAVAX and manufactured by Merck & Co., researchers found that for those aged 60 and older, the vaccine reduced the occurrence of shingles by about 50 percent. For those aged 60 to 69 years old, the vaccine reduced the occurrence of
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