New Vaccine For Shingles Now Available

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Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles is more common in adults and can cause a painful rash and blisters. 

In 2006, the FDA approved the 1st shingles vaccine, Zostavax, a single shot vaccine approved for use in those 50 years of age and older.  Zostavax reduces the risk of developing shingles by 51%. On October 23, 2017, the FDA approved the second shingles vaccine – Shingrix.  

How many doses of Shingrix do I need to get?

The Shingrix vaccine will require two doses.  The 2nd dose of Shingrix should be given 2 to 6 months after the 1st dose. Shingrix is approved for adults 50 years of age and older.

What’s the difference between Zostavax and Shingrix?

First off, the effectiveness of Shingrix is greater than that of Zostavax. Shingrix is intended to generate a strong and long-lasting immune response that can help overcome the decline in immunity as people age. Also, Zostavax is a live vaccine, only requiring one dose, whereas Shingrix is a non-live vaccine and requires two doses.

Finally, Singrix is now the preferred vaccine for preventing shingles and related complications.

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I have already received Zostavax. Do I need to get Shingrix?

Probably. The CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that adults who previously received Zostavax should get Shingrix at this time.

How much more effective is Shingrix?

In phase 3 trials, the vaccine was 97% effective against shingles in those 50 years and older, and it was 89.8% effective for those 70 years and older. Additionally, Shingrix was shown to be 89% effective in preventing post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) in those 70 years and older and 91% effective in those 50 years and older.

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