New Vaccine for Shingles

Shingrix new Shingles Vaccine

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has announced that a new more effective shingles vaccine is now available called Shingrix that was licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017. The CDC recommends that healthy people over the age of 50 get the vaccine. It is  given in two separate injections in the upper arm. The second injection is given 2-6 months after the first one.

Shingles and Chicken Pox

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is a disease that comes to people who had chicken pox as a child. The same virus causes both diseases (varicella zoster virus). The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that according to studies, 99% of Americans over age 40 had chicken pox as a child, even though they may not remember this. After a child recovers from chicken pox the virus still remains in the body in a dormant state somewhere near the spinal cord. For some reason, as people get older, the virus can become active again producing a new disease called herpes zoster or shingles. In fact, the older one gets, the greater is the chance for getting shingles.

Shingles is a virus that attacks the nerves and can produce excruciating pain. Mild cases may clear up after a few weeks, but in some seniors shingles can take a long time to heal and the constant pain makes for poor quality of life. Some people are left with pain for months or even years from shingles. This is called post herpetic neuralgia (PHN) and sadly there are even some people who suffer from chronic pain all of their lives.

Rash and Zovirax

Initially a small rash may appear, usually on one side of the body and may at first go unnoticed, especially if it is on the back. The rash may only feel like a slight burning. The rash appears like shingles on a roof and at first it may only catch attention as an unusual looking rash. Eventually the rash may form painful blisters and/or may result in very intense itching.

However, if it is diagnosed in time, within the first 48 hours from when the rash first appears, taking the prescribed medication Zovirax may prevent it from developing into full-blown shingles and from getting post herpetic neuralgia. However, since the early rash may go unnoticed, it is often too late to take Zovirax in time to prevent the full onslaught of shingles, so it is far better to be vaccinated than to have to be afflicted with shingles, which is a disease that can make for poor quality of life for months or years to come. Also, Zovirax can have some bad side effects for seniors like raising blood pressure and increasing the heart beat – tachycardia.

New Vaccine 90% Effective

This new Shingrix vaccine is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles whereas the earlier Zostavax vaccine only gave about 70% protection. Also Shingrix gives over 85% protection from shingles for four years after getting the Shingrix vaccine. For seniors who already had a bout of shingles getting the new vaccine can help to prevent them getting shingles again.


Shingles has the possibility to go the way of becoming extinct like small pox if all children today get vaccinated for chicken pox, as without first getting chicken pox there will be no more shingles. However, for today’s seniors, 99% of whom had chicken pox in childhood, it is imperative to get everyone vaccinated over the age of 50 as soon as possible, as the older one gets the greater the chance of developing shingles.

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