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FDA Approves New, More Effective Vaccine For Shingles

GlaxoSmithKline via Associated Press

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new vaccine for shingles. Zostavax has been the only product on the market for the last decade. Now, Shingrix appears to be more effective against the painful, viral rash.

More than half of the one million people in the United States who develop shingles are 60 and older. People who have had chickenpox at some point in their life are at risk for shingles, says Dr. Colton Redding, a family medicine physician with Methodist Health System.

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Redding says as we age, our immunity wanes and allows the dormant virus to come back, but as a painful rash. Also known as herpes zoster, shingles attacks the nervous system, too.

He says the newly FDA-approved Shingrix has proven to be a stronger and longer-lasting vaccine against shingles than Zostavax.

Interview Highlights

On Shingrix replacing Zostavax: Based on the current recommendations from the advisory committee, it almost seems like it should replace Zostavax to some degree, but there may still be a role for that.

On known side effects from Shingrix: Potential for redness, inflammation and discomfort at the site of the injection as well as fever would be some of the most common things you would see. Nothing debilitating that we know of. Nothing that would have any long lasting effects.

On preventing shingles: The only thing you can do to prevent shingles is to get one of the two vaccinations available. Be healthy and health-conscious in your lifestyle to make sure your immunity is as well supported as it can be.

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Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.