Experimental Shingles Vaccine Proves Effective
A large, nationwide clinical trial has proven the effectiveness of an experimental vaccine against shingles.
Schmalfeldt: A painful viral infection of the nerves and skin may have just met its match. In one of the largest clinical trials of its kind ever conducted, researchers have discovered that an experimental vaccine against shingles has been proven effective. Doctor Stephen Straus — an Infectious-Disease Specialist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, And Director of the National Center For Complementary and Alternative Medicine — talks about the results of the five-and-a-half-year study.
Straus: We can reduce shingles by 51-percent with a single dose of the vaccine. And, of the individuals who are vaccinated that got shingles, their cases were milder — with much less pain. And, it's pain that's the major problem of shingles, that we dread — which is why we need to prevent it.
Schmalfeldt: Doctor Straus summed up the vaccine's potential impact.
Straus: For the first time, we have the ability not to treat the shingles — we've had that for 20 years — but to prevent it entirely. We estimate that, if every healthy American age 60 and up got a single dose of the shingles vaccine, we'd prevent a quarter of a million cases of this painful virus infection, every year.
Schmalfeldt: The trial was conducted at 22 study sites nationwide — including 16 VA Medical Centers, and six sites coordinated through the NIAID. Shingles is caused by reactivation of the virus that causes chicken-pox. Experts estimate more than a million new cases of shingles occur in the U.S. each year. The vaccine must be approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration before it can be offered on a clinical basis. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt, in Bethesda, Maryland.