No Excuses, People: Get the New Shingles Vaccine

A new shingles vaccine is causing a stir in the medical community. The zoster vaccine recombinant, adjuvanted (Shingrix—GlaxoSmithKline), which was approved by FDA in October, "has spectacular initial protection rates in every age group," says William Schaffner, MD, preventive disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "The immune system of a 70- or 80-year-old responds as if the person were only 25 or 30." NIH researcher Jeffrey Cohen, MD, adds: "This really looks to be a breakthrough in vaccinating older adults." Results from large international trials indicate that Shingrix prevents more than 90% of shingles cases, even at older ages. Zostavax, the currently available shingles vaccine, prevents about one-half of shingles cases in people older than age 60 years, and it has demonstrated lower effectiveness among older individuals. CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices last month voted to make Shingrix the preferred vaccine, and it recommended Shingrix for all adults older than age 50 years. In addition, the committee recommended Shingrix for adults who have previously received Zostavax, as a smaller study in individuals older than age 65 years showed effectiveness and safety for those already vaccinated.