When is the best time to get a shingles shot? There is some disagreement between the FDA and the CDC as to the best age: The FDA approves the shot for people 50 to 59 based on the fact that people in their 50s typically have a stronger reaction to it and gain more protection at this age, about 70 percent effectiveness. However, the vaccine may only protect about eight years and there is no evidence that a booster shot would work, leaving people vulnerable as they approach their 60s. The CDC has concluded that vaccinating after age 60 prevents the most cases of shingles and Medicare and most insurance plans follow the CDC’s recommendations. The vaccine is about 51 percent effective in people 60 to 69. This may all change with a new vaccine now being tested. Preliminary results show the new shot to be 97.2 percent effective in preventing shingles, according to results from a study published online in the New England Journal of Medicine this year. Also, it didn’t matter when people were vaccinated, in their 50s, 60s or 70s. Hopefully the company will file for FDA approval within a year or two. This welcome news should then encourage more people to get the shot. Today, only about 1 in 4 people 60 and over get the shot, leaving many older patients suffering terribly from shingles that might have been prevented. Go to AARP Bulletin/Real Possibilities, November 2015 for additional information.
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