We have had patients who’ve gotten a shingles vaccination and yet still had a shingles outbreak. We encourage them to come in quickly so that we can diagnose and treat the disease to help make sure it causes as little pain and discomfort as possible. But the point is, it’s more than disappointing when we don’t get the desired effects from a vaccine. And it’s not completely surprising. That’s because no vaccine is 100% effective, even those critical childhood ones.
The vaccine reduces the risk of shingles by about half
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that we all get the shingles vaccine at 60 years of age. And even though it’s not always effective, the vaccine still protects a lot of the people. If you do have an outbreak of shingles even though you’ve had the vaccine, it may be a milder episode because you were vaccinated — and that’s valuable!
Earlier is better and something can be better than nothing
The vaccine is thought to be most effective in our 60s when it reduces cases by 64%. In our 70s it’s only 41% effective, and by our 80s, it’s only 18% effective.
In a large clinical trial, the vaccine seemed to work best at reducing the risk of extreme cases of shingles, the kind that usually comes with long-lasting pain (a syndrome called postherpetic neuralgia).
A new and better vaccine is on the horizon
Last spring, a study found that a newly developed shingles vaccine is about twice as effective as the current vaccine. Researchers studied the vaccine in more than 15,000 people, average age 62, over a three-year period. There were only six confirmed cases of shingles in the vaccinated group, making the vaccine about 97% effective.
But for now
One in three adults over 60 get shingles, and it’s painful and debilitating. The current vaccine may help you prevent the disease, or at least, prevent you from getting a severe case. Call us to discuss the vaccine and if it’s the right choice for you: (210) 692-3000 or (210) 370-9995.