A new shingles shot has been released. The new shot is more effective than the old one, so much so that adults who received the old vaccine should be re-immunized with the new one.
Shingles is caused by the herpes zoster virus, the same one that causes chicken pox. Once a person has had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue. Years later, it may reactivate as shingles. The C.D.C. estimates that about one million cases are diagnosed in the United States each year.
The new vaccine is given in two doses at least eight weeks apart. However, about 80 percent of individuals had some type of vaccine reaction, compared to 30 percent of people who got a placebo.
Most symptoms were mild or moderate. Most common was a sore arm and pain after injection. About half the people also developed more general side effects, such as muscle ache, fatigue and headaches that resolved in two to three days. It’s important to understand that these side effects are expected and resolve fairly quickly, and they should not discourage anyone from getting the second dose.
About 15 percent of people who got the vaccine had a reaction that interfered with their normal daily activities. Those resolved within two to three days.
The cost of the two shots is estimated to be $280 and insurance coverage may vary.
Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.