After an influential government advisory panel recommended that Americans who are 60 and over should get vaccinated against shingles, it should definitely become a practice with others across the globe.
Shingles is a very painful blistering skin rash that is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. It is very common in older people. It usually goes away after four week, but one in five sufferers develop post herpetic neuralgia and severe long-term pain. Complications can include scarring and loss of vision or even hearing.
Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus. At least fifteen to thirty per cent of people infected with the chickenpox virus develop shingles at some stage later in life.
Essentially, the shingles virus hibernates for decades in nerve cells around the spine. In some patients it reactivates probably because the body’s immune system weakens with age.
No new vaccine was available until this May when the FDA licensed Zostavax, manufactured by Merck & Co.