31 May 2018
A new and improved shingles vaccine, Shingrix, has been proven to be substantially more effective in preventing shingles than single dose Zostavax.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends Shingrix for healthy adults ages 50 and older.
Shingles, caused by the varicella zoster virus, manifests itself as a painful, itchy rash with blisters. The virus lies dormant in people who’ve had chickenpox and can reactivate as shingles, years later. While anyone who’s had chickenpox can get shingles, it’s most likely to affect the over 50 population – and the risk increases with age.
The old vaccine, Zostavax, is a live virus vaccine that is about 60 percent effective in preventing shingles. According to Dr. Marvin M. Lipman, a physician with Scarsdale Medical Group, the new Shingrix vaccine is not a live virus and results in a protection rate of over 90 percent with two doses. Two shots should be administered at least two months apart. Lipman acknowledges that, “It’s too soon to tell how many years the response will last or whether boosters will eventually be needed.”
And what if you’ve already had shingles? Dr. Lipman recommends that you still get the new vaccine – but wait at least one year after an acute episode. He goes on to say that, “If you’ve ever had the shingles – one out of three will suffer a bout in his or her lifetime, you don’t want a recurrence.”
So whether you’ve already had shingles, been vaccinated with Zostavax, or aren’t sure whether you’ve even had chickenpox, it’s recommended you get the Shingrix vaccine. Consult your doctor.