New shingles vaccine proves effective at curbing the infection

October 30, 2018

A new shingles vaccine has proven to be more successful in the prevention of the infection. The Shingrix vaccine was compared to the older vaccine Zostavax, and reviewed by more than 2 million patients above the age 50.

Researchers in Toronto found the newer germ-specific vaccine, was 85% more effective in reducing shingles, also known as herpes zoster, than Zostavax, which is live attenuated. The findings were published the BMJ journal.

“There haven’t been any head-to-head studies comparing the two shingles vaccines, so the results from our systematic review can be employed by policy-makers, clinicians, and patients to make their decisions on the use of these vaccines,” said Dr. Andrea Tricco, a scientist with St. Michael’s Hospital and associate professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health.

“If you have to choose between two vaccines and you have evidence showing that one of the vaccines is a little more effective, or a little safer than the other, then you might be more willing to take the safer and more effective one.”

Shingles happens through reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, which causes chickenpox, and is mainly contracted by people 50 and older.

In the US, almost 1 out of 3 people will develop shingles sometime in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles, and risk increases with age.Symptoms include a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body. Blisters typically scab over in seven to 10 days, while the rash should clear up within two to four weeks.

People who are immunocompromised, such as people with certain cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, or HIV. Immunosuppressive drugs, such as steroids and drugs that are given after organ transplantation, also pose increased risk.

The CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of Shingrix, which was approved by the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year. The agency says two doses of Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia, the most common complication from shingles. Zostavax, which is given in one dose, reduces the risk of developing shingles by 51%, according to the CDC.

The researchers reviewed 27 studies, including 22 randomized controlled trials, of 2,044,504 patients between 1998 and 2017.

Network meta-analysis of five randomized controlled trials found no statistically significant differences between the live attenuated vaccine and placebo.In an analysis of 11 randomized, controlled trials Zostavax was associated with more statistically adverse events at injection sites than the live attenuated vaccine.

 

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