Shingles vaccine reaches prevention milestone

A Merck & Co. vaccine recently met one of its major goals by preventing the onset of the shingles in adults between the ages of 50 and 59, the company has announced.

The newest study results proved that the vaccine reduced the incidence of shingles by almost 70 percent in people between the ages of 50 and 59. The vaccine is currently approved for use in people over the age of 60.

The company intends to petition the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to grant its approval for the use of the drug by the younger age group.

Shingles is also known as herpes zoster. It is a viral infection of nerve roots and causes pain and often a rash on one side of the body - left or right. The rash appears in a stripe or band, or sometimes in a small area. It is often accompanied by blistering.

The infection is most common in older adults. If contracted, it is likely that a victim will not get it again.

The virus that causes the chickenpox is behind the infection. It lays dormant in the body’s nerve roots until the body’s immune system is weakened from stress or aging. When awoken, it only causes shingles and not chickenpox. In some people, it will lay dormant forever.