New adult immunizations : pertussis and shingles vaccines
BOSTON, MA — For a long time, most healthy adults have had only three vaccines to keep track of: flu, pneumococcal pneumonia, and the tetanus-diphtheria (Td) booster. But now two new vaccines have joined the list, reports the October 2006 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch.
Shingles vaccine. The culprit that causes shingles is the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus responsible for chickenpox. In most people who have had chickenpox, the virus remains dormant and harmless for life. But in up to 15%, the virus becomes active and causes shingles, a painful line of blisters on one side of the body. Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for shingles.
The new vaccine, Zostavax, is suggested for people ages 60 and older but should not be given to people with weakened immune systems. Doctors don't yet know how long the vaccine's protection will last or if booster shots will be needed, says Harvard Men's Health Watch.