Experts are enthusiastic about a new shingles vaccine that received FDA approval last month. Shingrix is significantly more effective than the only currently available shingles vaccine and provides considerably longer protection.
Shingles is a painful blistering skin rash that may lead to long-term nerve pain, called postherpetic neuralgia. Caused by the varicella zoster virus, which stays dormant in the body after having had chickenpox, shingles can erupt decades later; the risk of developing shingles rises sharply after 50. Until now, there has been only one available vaccine for shingles – Zostavax. Zostavax prevents only about half of shingles cases, and its effectiveness drops significantly with age. The new vaccine, Shingrix, developed by GlaxoSmithKline, offers an efficacy of more than 90% and stays effective well past the age of 70. Shingrix was approved by the FDA last month, while EMA approval is still pending.
Lal H et al., ‘Efficacy of an Adjuvanted Herpes Zoster Subunit Vaccine in Older Adults’, The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 372, 2015, pp.2087-2096.
Span P, ‘No Excuses, People: Get the New Shingles Vaccine’, The New York Times, Nov. 10, 2017.