The Feb. 4 Columbian story, “Shingles shakes up health of millions,” about symptoms, treatment, and prevention of shingles, was great reporting. As a pharmacist, I enjoy seeing stories that promote health and disease prevention. I especially appreciated the statistic about the low rate of shingles vaccination. I can’t help but think that if we increased rates of vaccination we would see a dramatic decrease in outbreaks of this terribly painful rash each year.
I’m writing to draw more attention to the age group that can be vaccinated against shingles. As the story stated, the vaccine has been FDA-approved for people 50 years and older. However, not only is it approved for this age group, there is data that show the vaccine works better in the younger population. The shingles vaccine is nearly 70 percent effective at preventing a shingles outbreak in people between 50 and 59, about 64 percent effective for those between 60 and 69, and the efficacy drops to less than 40 percent for people 70 years and older.
Based on this information, I would encourage people age 50 and older to talk to their pharmacist about getting this vaccine. I strongly encourage people not to wait, since data shows the sooner the shingles vaccination, the better.