Newly-approved shingles vaccine was developed at University of Colorado

DENVER – A new vaccine that does a better job of preventing shingles was developed by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the new vaccine -- called Shingrix -- last week and the Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended it for patients 50 and older this week. The committee also recommended using Shingrix instead of the currently-available vaccine Zostavax.

Both Shingrix and Zostavax were developed at the University of Colorado.

“We are proud that this breakthrough was initially discovered and developed at the University of Colorado,” said Kimberly Muller, Managing Director of CU Innovations. “It is a powerful example of how CU, CU Innovations and its partners translate cutting-edge research into products that significantly improve lives.”

Shingles – also known as herpes zoster -- is a painful, itchy rash that’s caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. It remains latent in the body and sometimes reactivates as shingles as an adult. The CDC says one in three people will contract shingles in their lifetime and about half of those cases are in people who are 60 or older. Those with weakened immune systems also are at risk.

What sets Shingrix apart from Zostavax is its use of a single viral protein that’s purified in a lab instead of the whole virus. Scientists say Shingrix provides a stronger and longer-lasting immune response.

According to GlaxoSmithKline, which will produce and sell the vaccine, studies have shown an efficacy of more than 90 percent across all age groups. The vaccine also helps reduce the chances of getting post-herpetic neuralgia, which is a painful complication that can last for years after someone gets shingles.

Who should get the vaccine?

The CDC committee recommends the vaccine for anyone age 50 or older. That’s a change from the old guidelines, which suggested vaccinating people ages 60 and up

Shingrix also is recommended for those who have previously been vaccinated, as it provides better protection than Zostavax.

If you’ve already had shingles, you can still get the vaccine to help prevent any future outbreaks.

Read more about vaccine recommendations on the CDC’s website here.

GlaxoSmithKline said the vaccine will be available “shortly.”

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