How good is the shingles vaccine? A new study shows that vaccinating healthy older adults makes a significant difference. Shingles is a common and painful skin rash resulting from reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox. Roughly a million people develop shingles each year, and complications can be serious. The pain may be excruciating and sometimes lasts for many months or even years. This study, which took place among patients of Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, found that people who received the vaccine were only about half as likely to come down with shingles. Serious complications such as shingles of the eye were also reduced. To put this into perspective, however, 71 people need to be vaccinated to avoid one case of shingles.
[JAMA, Jan. 12, 2011]