Shingles Vaccine: New recommendation

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

The Advisory Commitee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) now recommends the Shingles vaccine for all adults over 60 even if you have had a case of shingles in the past.

Download the below for more information about the vaccine

Shingles occurs much more commonly in people over 50, and becomes more frequent with increased age. At seventy the risk is about 1 percent per year (10 out of 100 will have shingles in their seventies). It is a painful disease. The rash is localized, lasts for a few weeks, and is painful. In about 1 in 5, the pain lingers several weeks after the rash goes away. Sometimes it lingers longer. If the rash occurs on the face, it can cause eye complications. Rarely there are even more serious, life threatening complications.

The vaccine is only about 50-60 percent effective, getting less with age.

As always, consult your health care professional before getting the vaccine.

What are your thoughts/ comments?

See press release from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality:

Nearly 1 million Americans receive medical care for shingles or its complications, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Shingles comes from an infection with varicella-zoster virus – the same virus that cases chicken pox – and can result in burning or shooting pain, tingling or itching. However, unlike chicken pox, shingles is not contagious.

AHRQ’s survey found that:

  • Americans make 2.1 million doctor visits a year because of shingles or its complications.
  • The average cost for treating shingles is $525 per person or $566 million each year (in 2005 dollars), including prescription medicines.
  • People age 65 and older are seven times more likely to get shingles than the non-elderly – (1.5 percent compared with 0.2 percent, respectively).

AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to enhance the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data in this AHRQ News.

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2 Responses to “Shingles Vaccine: New recommendation”

  1. Dave Says:

    I would like to point out, that Zostavax can cause shingles. I was a healthy 64 year old male who received the Zostavax vaccine on 2/5/08. Ten days later, my doctor diagnosed me with “classic shingles”. He put me on Valtrex for 7 days and I was still (1 month later) suffering with red spots on my (right) chest, pain in my right arm and shoulder, and severe itching. I notified Merck and my doctor also did! I read Merck’s “double blind” studies, and nowhere does it simply say: this vaccine can cause you to contract shingles. I have all the documentation as well as pictures. Please caution anyone who wants to gamble with their health.

  2. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Thanks for the info and feedback. Have you contacted the cdc or fda to report it?

    A couple of things come to mind. I am not sure how long it takes, after the shot, to get the full effect of immunity from your antibodies. I know some people get the flu shot, but get the flu in a week or 2 before the full effect of the immunization has set in.

    The other thing is that it is not even close to being 100 percent effective. In fact it is more like 50 percent. So, if 100 people were going to get shingles, 50 still would if all took the vaccine.

    James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.
    Publisher, James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor

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