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Shingles Prevention for Seniors Zostavax New FDA Approved Vaccine

Typically patients take care of a whole host of vaccines when they’re little.  Measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, flu: they’re all on the laundry list of shots you get as you grow up.  But now doctors are advising older patients to get a vaccine to help prevent shingles in seniors.

Shingles, a painful blistering skin rash, is more likely to attack seniors when they reach 50 years old.  There is a 30% chance a senior will get shingles.  That’s why the Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine, Zostavax, for seniors.  The shot, which is manufactured by Merck & Company, is 70% likely to prevent shingles and lessen the symptoms of those who do get it.

The vaccine was already approved for seniors over 50, but recent studies have shown the drug is effective for younger seniors as well.

“The likelihood of shingles increases with age. The availability of Zostavax to a younger age group provides an additional opportunity to prevent this often painful and debilitating disease,” Karen Midthun Director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said in a news release.

The only downside to this vaccine is the price, it’s about $160.

More about shingles
This painful skin rash is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox.  When you get chicken pox, the itchy bumps go away but the virus never does.  It stays dormant in the nerve endings of your body until it ‘wakes up’ later on.  What causes the virus to ‘wake up’ is still unknown, but stress and any kind of illness that weakens your immune system have been proven to bring on shingles.  While chicken pox and shingles come from the same virus, you can still get shingles even if you’ve never had the chicken pox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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