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  • 2018 08 Medicine, The new vaccine for shingles is here
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Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a virus infection. It mainly occurs in older people. It can be painful or even very painful. And it is estimated that approximately 30% of all persons will experience shingles during their lifetime.
Especially in immunocompromised patients, shingles can be an important problem. (An immunocompromised patient is a patient who, because of his impaired immune system, does not have the ability anymore to respond normally to an infection).
Long awaited by both patients and doctors, the new vaccine against shingles, “Shingrix,” seems to be much more effective than the old vaccine against shingles, “Zostavax”. In one large clinical study, in patients 50 years of age or older, the new vaccine was effective in more than 95%. In another large clinical study, in patients 70 years of age or older, the new vaccine was effective in almost 90%. In addition, the new vaccine does not need refrigeration during storage and transport. And the new vaccine can be given also to immunocompromised patients, which is a step forward.
However, there are problems. With the new shingles vaccine, a booster dose (in other words, a second vaccination) is required at 2 months. Whether this two-dose requirement will limit the usefulness of the new vaccine (perhaps limit it greatly) remains to be seen. Further, the new vaccine is more expensive than the old vaccine. In low- or middle-income countries, the uptake of the new vaccine could be very limited because of the price.