The U.S. FDA has approved the first vaccine for adult shingles. The vaccine, known as Zostavax, is intended for use in adults age 60 and older. Studies have shown that it can prevent shingles roughly half the time.
The market for the vaccine is large, according to spokespeople for Merck, the vaccine’s manufacturer. There are approximately 50 million Americans over age 60 and more than 95 percent had chickenpox as children. The company originally sought approval to sell the vaccine to adults 50 and older, but the FDA restricted it to those 60 and older because it had not been studied in patients younger than 60.
Dr. David Markovitz, said that doctors may be tempted to offer “off-label” vaccinations to adults age 50 to 59, but he stressed that the vaccine remains unstudied in such patients and that researchers still don‘t know how long immunity lasts after vaccination.
“I don‘t think I would rush out and get it myself,” said Markovitz, who is 52.