Harvard Women's Health Watch

Expert panel recommends new shingles vaccine

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A CDC advisory panel has recommended that some adults get vaccinated with a newly approved shingles vaccine. Officials hope the new vaccine, called Shingrix, will prove more effective than Zostavax, which until recently was the only shingles vaccine on the market.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices agreed on the recommendation at an October meeting, shortly after the FDA announced its approval of Shingrix for use in adults age 50 and over. Zostavax, which is recommended only for adults ages 60 and older, has been shown to lose potency over time, typically becoming less protective after the first five years.

Both vaccines are designed to prevent shingles, a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. The virus can linger in your body and re-emerge, typically in later adulthood, as the painful rash known as shingles. Some people also experience complications, including long-term nerve pain called postherpetic neuralgia. The committee recommended that both unvaccinated adults ages 50 and older and adults who have already received Zostavax get the new vaccine. The final CDC recommendation is still pending.

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