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Shingles Vaccine Cuts Disease Risk 55%

Shingles Risk Cut for All Age Groups and in People With Chronic Disease, Researchers Found

Shingles Vaccine: Not a Strong Sell

In the second study looking at the rate of vaccination, CDC researchers evaluated data from the 2008 National Health Interview Survey, finding only 6.7% of people 60 and older had gotten the vaccine.

After being licensed by the FDA in 2006, the vaccine was recommended in 2008 for people over 60 by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which provides guidance on vaccines.

In a previous study, researchers found that just 1.9% of adults in that age group had gotten the vaccine in 2007.

Of those who contract herpes zoster, 10% to 30% develop the painful syndrome known as postherpetic neuralgia, which can be resistant to treatment, the researchers write.

Among the barriers to vaccination, according to the CDC researchers, may be lack of availability and the stringent storage and handling requirements for the vaccine. Some doctors may not be aware of the new recommendation, they say.

Shingles Vaccine: Second Opinion

Vaccine expense is another barrier for some, says Peter Galier, MD, attending physician and former chief of staff at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, Santa Monica, Calif., and associate professor of medicine, University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine. Not all plans cover the vaccine cost, says Galier, who reviewed the studies for WebMD.

Once patients learn about it, most are agreeable, he finds. "Everybody wants it, because they have heard all the horror stories," he says.

In his practice, Galier says, he often treats patients who go through a dramatic stress, such as a death in the family, and then come down with shingles. "The immune system has a certain amount of energy and ability to keep disease in check," he says. But substantial life stress may be too much, and the virus may reactivate, he says.

Recently, a patient with shingles whom he cared for told him she had left her job under bad circumstances just three weeks before the rash developed. He finds that kind of scenario common, he says.

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