Health Team

Shingles vaccine reduces occurrence in elderly

Posted January 11, 2011 5:30 p.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2011 6:17 p.m. EST

Elderly people stand a lesser chance of getting shingles if they are vaccinated for the disease, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers studied three years of medical records of more than 300,000 adults over age 60, comparing the incidence of shingles between those who received the vaccine and those who did not.

Shingles is an itchy, blistering rash on the skin caused when the dormant chicken pox virus reactivates in the body, usually much later in life.

"We found that vaccination against shingles is associated with a 50 percent lower risk of developing shingles in the elderly population,” said Hun Fu Tseng with the Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group.

Researchers also found that adults over age 75, the age group with the highest incidence of shingles, had a lower rate of shingles after receiving the vaccine.

The vaccine is a single shot and available to anyone over age 60, because that is the age group most often affected by the painful and debilitating condition.