Saturday, October 28, 2006

Shingles vaccine urged for people over 60

The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. has recommended that the new Merck drug, Zostavax, should be given to people over 60 years of age and older. On checking patient information at Merck's web site I learned that this vaccine should not be taken by people who are immune-suppressed and transplant recipients on anti-rejection drugs should be aware of this. Here's the story as reported by United Press International:

ATLANTA, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- A U.S. immunization panel recommended that people age 60 and older receive a new vaccine against shingles, a condition that can lead to chronic pain.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a panel of the national Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, recommended that Zostavax be given to all people age 60 and older, including those who have had a previous outbreak of shingles, or herpes zoster, the CDC said in a news release.

Anne Schuchat, director of CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, said the vaccine was found to be safe and effective in protecting against shingles and its associated pain, the CDC said. In the study, Zostavax was found to reduce the occurrence of shingles by about 50 percent in participants who were 60 years and older, the CDC said.

Shingles in adults is caused by the childhood disease chicken pox, the CDC said. The virus becomes dormant in nerves following a chicken pox outbreak, only to emerge later as shingles in about 25 percent of those who had chicken pox. Shingles often causes chronic pain, and the risk of chronic pain increases with age, starting at 60 years, the CDC said

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