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New Vaccine Fights Shingles

Dr. Peter Gulick photo
WKAR File Photo
Dr. Peter Gulick

Many people who have had shingles say it’s the greatest pain they’ve ever endured. About a million people get shingles every year. Since it was licensed in 2006, the vaccine Zostavax has been recommended to older Americans to prevent shingles. Late last year, doctors began to recommend a new vaccine they think will be more effective than Zostavax. It's called Shingrix.

Dr. Peter Gulick of the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine says Shingrix is not a live virus. "They've taken a part of the virus," he explains, and they've attached onto it another substance which can very much stimulate the immune system." As a result, he says it's much more effective.

Shingrix is being recommended for people starting at age 50. It's administered in two doses, two to six months apart. "It tends to have a longer ability to protect you," says Dr. Gulick.

Patients who got the Zostavax vaccine in the last couple of years should be re-vaccinated with Shingrix. "There's no harm to doing that," Dr. Gulick concludes, "plus, you're getting a more effective vaccine."

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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