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.
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.
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