Is there a vaccine to prevent shingles?
Yes. The Center for Disease Control recommends Zostavox for use
in people 60 years and older to prevent shingles. This is a one-time vaccination. Zostavax does not treat shingles or post-herpetic neuralgia (pain after the rash is gone) once it develops.
Is the vaccine safe?
The FDA has licensed the vaccine as safe. The vaccine has been tested in about 20,000 people aged 60 years and older. The most common side effects in people who got the vaccine were redness, soreness, swelling or itching at the shot site and headaches. The Center for Disease Control, working with the FDA, will continue to monitor the safety of the vaccine after it is in general use.
The shingles vaccine is made of a weakened form of the chickenpox virus. Can a person who has received the vaccine infect others with this virus?
No. It is safe to be around infants and young children, pregnant women, or people with weakened immune systems after you get the shingles vaccine. Transmission of the chickenpox virus from a person who has received the shingles vaccine has never been documented.
Some people who get the shingles vaccine will develop a chickenpox like rash near the place where they were vaccinated. As a precaution, this rash should be covered until it disappears. How effective is the shingles vaccine?
In a clinical trail involving thousands of adults 60 years and older, Zostavax reduced the risk of shingles by about half (51%) and the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia by 67%. While the vaccine was most effective in people 60-90 years old it also provided some protection for other groups.
How long does the vaccine last?
Researchers suggest that the shingles vaccine is effective for at least six years, but may last much longer. Ongoing studies are being conducted to determine exactly how long the vaccine protects against shingles. Who should NOT get the vaccine?
- People who have had life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin.
- People who have a severe allergy to any component of the vaccine.
- People with a weakened immune system as a result of leukemia, lymphoma or any other blood or bone cancer.
- People with HIV/AIDS who have T-cell counts below 200.
- People being treated with drugs that affect the immune system, including high –dose steroids.Decisions about vaccines or any medications should be discussed with your health care provider, who is well informed about your MG.
Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, http://cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/shingles/vac-faqs.htm