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Shingles vaccine linked to lower disease risk

Shot for older people appears to lessen incidence and severity

4:34pm, January 11, 2011

The vaccination for shingles isn’t foolproof but it beats the no-shot alternative, reducing the risk of the painful, itching disease by more than half, a new study suggests. What’s more, people who get shingles despite being vaccinated seem more likely to get milder cases, researchers report in the Jan. 12 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster after the virus that causes it, shows up as skin blisters and a rash, often on the torso. The pain and itch can last for months or longer. Antiviral drugs can be prescribed for the symptoms, says study coauthor Hung Fu Tseng, an epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Department of Research and Evaluation in Pasadena, Calif.

The shingles vaccine was approved in 2006 for people age 60 and over. In the new study, Tseng and his colleagues analyzed records of more than 300,000 people in that age group, one-fourth of whom had received the vaccination since its appro

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