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CDC Recommends Shingles Vaccine for Older Patients

Herpes zoster vaccine halves occurrence of shingles in patients over 60 years of age

FRIDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- People aged 60 and older should be vaccinated against the Varicella zoster virus to reduce the likelihood of developing shingles, according to a recommendation made by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The committee recommends Zostavax, the only zoster vaccine on the market. In a study of Zostavax, 38,000 adults aged 60 and older were randomized to receive the vaccine or a placebo. After three years of follow-up, the vaccine was found to halve the occurrence of shingles and reduce post-herpetic neuralgia by 67 percent.

The lifetime risk of developing herpes zoster is approximately 25 percent. Risk of developing shingles increases from age 50 onwards.

"Vaccines aren't just for kids anymore -- and this vaccine represents an important medical breakthrough aimed at improving health in older people," Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, noted in a statement. "These vaccine recommendations address a health problem for people age 60 and older. It has been tested and has been found to be safe and effective in providing protection against shingles and associated chronic pain."

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