Just five days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the new shingles vaccine Shingrix, an advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed its use. The CDC panel said Shingrix is much more effective than the previously approved vaccine in protecting protect older adults from developing shingles—a painful, blistering rash—and its associated complications.
The CDC director still needs to approve these recommendations, then they will be published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and become official policy. The vaccine is estimated to be available to the public in early 2018.
According to the CDC, about one out of three people in the United States will get shingles in their lifetime and 1 million Americans contract it per year. Shingles generally occurs in older adults (half of all cases occur in people 60 or older) when the dormant chickenpox virus reactivates as shingles. A rash develops on one side of the body and can cause some to develop postherpetic neuralgia, which is nerve pain that can last for months or even years after the rash disappears.
The first shingles vaccine in more than a decade, Shingrix, made by GlaxoSmithKline, is a two-dose vaccine for adults age 50 and older. The CDC panel recommends that it’s the preferred vaccine over the previously recommended shingles vaccine, Zostavax, which was recommended for those 60 and older. The panel’s additional recommendation is that those who were already vaccinated with Zostavax, made by Merck, should still get the new one.
If you’re interested in receiving the Shingrix vaccine, ask your doctor about it and any possible side effects. Remember to check the license of your doctor on the Medical Board of California’s website, www.mbc.ca.gov.