GlaxoSmithKline has won U.S. approval for a new and improved shingles vaccine that will be marketed as Shingrix. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the Shingrix vaccine has proved significantly better than the existing Zostavax vaccine in clinical trials. The FDA approved Shingrix, which is given in two doses, for individual’s aged 50 and over.
Shingles is an infection of an individual nerve and the skin surface that is supplied by the nerve. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Older adults are most at risk of shingles, which is a painful, often debilitating blistering rash that results from reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus and remains latent in those who have had that disease.
There is an estimated 1 million cases of shingles each year in the United States, and 1 in 3 people develop shingles during their lifetime. Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox can develop shingles. It is not possible however to have shingles if you have never been exposed to chickenpox or the varicella virus that causes it.
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Shingrix appears to represent a new and better option for individuals wishing to be vaccinated to prevent shingles. Individuals approaching 50 should discuss receiving the vaccine as part of their overall health maintenance with the primary care physician.