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Shingles vaccine ( Zostavax ®) is now available at HCMC

Shingles vaccine ( Zostavax ®) is now available at HCMC

What is Shingles?

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox (Varicella Zoster). Once you have had chickenpox, the virus can stay in your nervous system for many years. For reasons that are not fully understood, the virus may become active again and give you shingles especially when your immune system is low and those elderly patients.

Shingles is a rash that is usually on one side of the body. The rash begins as a cluster of small red spots that often blister. The rash can be painful. Shingles rashes usually last up to 30 days and, for most people, the pain associated with the rash lessens as it heals. Some patients suffer great pain even after the rash has gone, this is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PNH).



Does Zostavax help with post herpetic neuralgia (PNH)?

In people who were 70 years of age and older, and still developed shingles, even though they had been vaccinated, Zostavax reduced the frequency of PHN, the pain associated with the illness. Overall, the benefit of Zostavax in preventing PHN is due to the effect of the vaccine on reducing the risk of developing herpes zoster (shingles). Zostavax will not work to treat PHN.


How well does Zostavax work to prevent herpes zoster (shingles)?

For people 60 years of age and older, the studies for Zostavax enrolled approximately 38,000 people throughout the United States; approximately half received Zostavax and half received placebo. Study participants were followed on average for about three years to see if they developed shingles and if they did, how long the pain lasted.

At the conclusion of the studies, researchers found that overall (in persons age 60 years and older) the vaccine reduced the occurrence of herpes zoster (shingles) by about 50%. The vaccine effect was highest at 64% in people between the ages 60-69, but its effectiveness declined with increasing age; to 41% for the 70-79 age group, and 18% for those 80 years of age and older.

In those who were vaccinated with Zostavax, but still developed shingles, the duration of pain was a bit shorter for them versus those who received a placebo. Specifically, the pain of those in the Zostavax group lasted on average for 20 days and for those who received placebo, it lasted for about 22 days. The severity of the pain did not appear to differ among the two groups.

For people 50-59 years of age, approximately 22,000 people were studied; half received Zostavax and half received a placebo. Study participants were then monitored for at least one year to see if they developed shingles. Compared with placebo, Zostavax reduced the risk of developing shingles by approximately 70 percent for the people 50-59 age group.

Who Should Get the Vaccine

CDC recommends Zostavax for use in people 50 years old and older to prevent shingles. This is a one-time vaccination. There is no maximum age for getting the shingles vaccine.

Anyone 60 years of age or older should get the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether they recall having had chickenpox or not. Studies show that more than 99% of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they don't remember getting the disease.

At this time, CDC does not have a recommendation for routine use of shingles vaccine in persons 50 through 59 years old. However, the vaccine is approved by FDA for people in this age group.

Even if you have had shingles, you can still receive the shingles vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific time that you must wait after having shingles before receiving the shingles vaccine. Generally, a person should make sure that the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated.

FDA recommends for people over 50 while CDC advises age group over 60.

Who should not get ZOSTAVAX?

You should not get ZOSTAVAX If you,

  • Are allergic to any of its ingredients , including gelatin or neomycin.
  • Have a weakened immune system (for example, an immune deficiency, leukemia, lymphoma, or HIV/AIDS).
  • Take high doses of steroids by injection or by mouth.
  • Are pregnant or plan to get pregnant.
  • You should not get ZOSTAVAX to prevent chickenpox.

How is Zostavax given?

Zostavax is given as a single dose by an injection under the skin, preferably in the upper arm.


What are the possible side effects of ZOSTAVAX?

The most common side effects that people in the clinical studies reported after receiving the vaccine


  • Redness, pain, itching, swelling, hard lump, warmth, or bruising where the shot was given. 
  • Headache

The following additional side effects have been reported with ZOSTAVAX:

  • allergic reactions, which may be serious and may include difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  • chickenpox
  • fever
  • hives at the injection site
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • nausea
  • rash
  • rash at the injection site
  • shingles
  • swollen glands near the injection site (that may last a few days to a few weeks)





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