These days, you can hardly walk past a pharmacy, or grocery store for that matter, without seeing an advertisement for the shingles vaccination. If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Big Pharma had their way, every person over the age of 60 would receive it. Plus, because the FDA approved the shingles vaccination Zostavax for people in their 50s, their target audience has grown by tens of millions.
Folks, this is a bad idea.
- This vaccine is still fairly new and its long-term side effects and effectiveness have yet to be determined.
- Second, no one knows if it helps ward off repeat outbreaks.
- And third, like most vaccines, its benefits are exaggerated.
Shingles Vaccination Trial Results Unimpressive
The primary clinical trial prior to Zostavax’s approval showed that it reduced risk of developing shingles by about 50 percent, but this isn’t as impressive as it sounds. In the placebo group, 3.3 percent of the study participants developed shingles, compared to 1.6 percent in the vaccine group. Yes, that’s a 50 percent difference, but the real, absolute risk reduction is just 1.7 percentage points.
Another way of looking at it is 175 people would have to be vaccinated to prevent one case of shingles, and 1,087 would need to be treated to prevent one case of postherpetic neuralgia (lingering nerve pain after an initial attack)—at a cost of $150–$300 per shingles vaccination.
Of course, you should make up your own mind, but I can tell you that I would never recommend the shingles vaccinination for my patients.
Now it’s your turn: What are your thoughts about the shingles vaccinination?
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