Zostavax shingles vaccine available on Danish market

Following a number of obstacles, the shingles vaccine Zostavax, which was developed by Merck, was recently approved for sale on the Danish market.

The vaccine, which as registered in 2006 but did not come to market due to limited production capacity, is approved for patients over the age of 50 to prevent shingles, also known as zoster or herpes zoster.

Shingles is caused by a flare-up of a virus that also causes chickenpox. The virus remains in the body after a chickenpox infection and resurfaces as shingles, a blistering rash that can be accompanied by itching, pain, burning, numbness or tingling. Some people also experience fatigue, headache, fever and chills, according to Mayo Clinic.

The Zostavax vaccine--according to Statens Serum Institut, which is part of the Danish Ministry of Health--is a stronger version of the chickenpox vaccine.

Its efficacy was determined across a number of studies, according to the Institut, though the vaccine has not been studied in subjects who have compromised immune systems.

Follow-up studies show, however, that the vaccine becomes less effective over time, requiring booster vaccinations that have not yet been determined.