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Ongoing Study Provides Hope for Shingles Prevention

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The project got underway in March. After inoculation, with either the vaccine or a placebo, the people will be followed for about four years.

"It's fundamentally a very simple-minded study," Oxman tells WebMD. "But there's a lot of work for safety reasons, because if this vaccine works, there's going to be 60 or 70 million older people who are going to want to get it in a relatively short period of time, and the FDA quite properly wants to have a lot more than the usual safety data [for approval]."

Whether this trial works, Perkins of the VZV Foundation tells WebMD, "the problem is going to ultimately be solved by vaccination -- we're pretty sure of that."

Vital Information:

  • Shingles is an infection of the nerve and skin that can cause excruciating pain for several weeks, months, or years.
  • The virus that causes chicken pox is responsible for shingles. It remains dormant in the body after a bout with chicken pox and is triggered by lowered immunity, usually a result of aging.
  • A large trial is currently underway to test a vaccine for shingles that is similar to the chicken pox vaccine used in children.
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