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Expert Panel Recommends New Shingles Vaccine, Shingrix, as First-Line Treatment

A new shingles vaccine that provides far more protection than its predecessor received the full blessing of a U.S. government vaccine advisory panel on Wednesday.

In a close 8-7 vote, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that Shingrix be chosen over Zostavax as the shingles vaccine of choice in adults aged 50 and older, the Washington Post reported.

Previously, a shingles vaccine had only been recommended for those aged 60 and older.

The panel went even further, and recommended that anyone who has been vaccinated with the Zostavax vaccine be re-vaccinated with the Shingrix vaccine -- that group numbers about 20 million people, the Post reported.

In total, more than 40 million people will be affected by the new recommendations, the newspaper said.

Shingles is an extraordinarily painful rash caused by the chickenpox virus. It tends to strike older adults.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had just approved Shingrix last Friday, based on a study from its maker, GlaxoSmithKline. That research found Shingrix protected about 90 percent of patients, but Zostavax only protected 50 percent of patients. Shingrix requires two shots, while Zostavax only requires one shot.

"This represents a major advance for people who want to be protected against the disease and its complications," Kathleen Dooling, a medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Post.

The CDC, which sets immunization schedules, typically accepts the recommendations of its vaccine panel. If approved by the CDC director, the new guidelines will be published as policy early next year, the newspaper said.

Posted: October 2017

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