Shingles vaccination is now nearly twice as effective as the previous protocol and available to patients 10 years younger than before, enabling largescale prevention of a painful, common condition. Adoption of the new standard of care could vastly reduce the one million annual cases of the disease, according to infectious disease specialist Judith Lightfoot, DO.
Almost one in three Americans will be afflicted with shingles in their lifetime. Shingles is a painful, potentially debilitating illness that is only preventable through vaccination, according to the CDC. In 2016, researchers found only 33 percent of eligible patients were vaccinated, pointing to the limited efficacy of the previous vaccine, a lack of awareness that the illness can be prevented, and cost concerns.
A new survey commissioned by the AOA finds less than two-thirds of Americans (62%) are aware that there is a shingles vaccine. The online survey of over 2,000 adults was conducted by The Harris Poll in June 2018 on behalf of the AOA.
“This is an unprecedented opportunity to nearly eliminate shingles among our patient population, as well as the possibility of chronic pain or even blindness that can accompany the condition,” says Dr. Lightfoot, a professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. “It’s a prevention conversation I’m having with nearly every patient over 50.”
The new FDA-approved vaccine, marketed as Shingrix, is shown to be 97 percent effective in adults ages 50-69, and more than 90 percent effective in those 70 to well past 80. The earlier vaccine, Zostavax, prevented just over half (51%) of recipients from developing the painful disease and was recommended for patients 60 and older, due to waning immunity over time.
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