Shingles vaccine not a risk for side effects

Merck & Co.'s shingles vaccine does not appear to have a risk of serious side effects, according to a new study.

Dow Jones Newswires reports that Merck & Co. sponsored the study for its vaccine, Zostavax. The study included about 12,000 people 60 years of age and older. The study, Dow Jones Newswires reports, found a statistically insignificant higher rate of side affects for those who were given the vaccine and for those who received a placebo.

A Merck spokeswoman told Dow Jones Newsires that the results would not be discussed until they are presented at the American Geriatrics Society's annual meeting in Orlando on May 13.

A summary of the study posted online on the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society states that the vaccine and placebos "had similar safety profiles" six weeks and six months after the vaccination.

Merck began selling Zostavax in 2006, but there have been some concerns about the vaccine's safety. The prescription label warns of heart-related problems, Dow Jones Newswires reports, because a safety analysis of a small group of participants in an earlier study showed a higher risk of that condition. Published in 2005, that study as a whole, however, suggested the vaccine was safe, because, like the most recent study, there was not a significant difference in the number of people who were given the shingles vaccine and those given the placebo who reported serious adverse events.