New Shingles vaccine OK’d
by Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press
Courtesy and Thanks: Toronto Sun News, Wednesday, August 22, 2008
Health Canada has approved a vaccine that helps prevent painful shingles outbreaks in older people who had chinkenpox earlier in life. The vaccine, which has been available in United States since about mid- 2006, boosts immunity to the vericella Zoster virus- the bug that causes chickenpox- which lives in latent form in the nervous system of people who have had the disease.
Reactivation occurs later in life in about 15% to 20% of people who had chickenpox, according to Public Health Agency of Canada’s website. The reactivation produces a painful rash that typically lasts a couple of weeks; it’s a condition known by the names shingles, herpes zoster or just zoster. In some cases the pain endures for months and even years after the rash subsides, a condition know as post-herpetic neuralgia. It (shingles) occurs in all age groups but it increases in incidence slowly and the curve starts to increase more rapidly some where around (age) 50,” explained Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital. “And then the increase gets steeper and steeper as you get older and older.”
The vaccine, called Zostavax, is licensed for people 60 and older. Its manufacturer, Merck Frosst Canada, declined yesterday to give an estimate of what the one-shot vaccine will cost when it becomes available later next year. Studies show that in healthy adults, te vaccine reduces the incidence of shingles by about 50%. That means a shot won’t ensure a person won’t develop the condition. But the studies also showed that the outbreaks were less severe in people who got the shot than those who didn’t.
Courtesy and Thanks: Toronto Sun News, Wedesday, August 22, 2008