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Shingles immunity from chicken pox vaccine unclear, experts say

I was around eight years old when I got chicken pox, and I remember there was a lot of scratching and calamine lotion involved. These days, you don’t really hear about kids catching chicken pox, thanks to a vaccine approved by the FDA in 1995.

Had a chicken pox vaccine been available to me as a child, would I now be immune to developing shingles, a disease caused by the same virus? An article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle describes how experts, including Ann Arvin, MD, who led research that helped explain immune responses to varicella zoster (the virus that causes chicken pox), are uncertain of the answer. But:

In the meantime, [Arvin] offers advice to adults over 50 who fear shingles' wrath: Get the shingles vaccine. Zostavax, which is also created from a weakened form of varicella, boosts adults' ability to fight the existing virus if it reactivates. The FDA approved the vaccine for people 50 and over in 2011, after a study of 22,000 people showed that people who had the vaccine were 70 percent less likely to get shingles within a year than people who received a placebo...

Previously: CDC: More U.S. adults need to get recommended vaccinations, "Herd immunity" causes dramatic drop in infant chicken pox and Vaccination could eliminate chicken pox-related deaths in the U.S.

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