Rite Aid gears up to vaccinate patients ages 50 years, older for shingles

CAMP HILL, Pa. — A decision by the Food and Drug Administration to lower the age at which patients can receive a vaccine for shingles opens the door for pharmacists to administer it to more patients.

Rite Aid said Tuesday that pharmacists at more than 2,100 of its stores now could vaccinate patients ages 50 years and older with Merck’s Zostavax (zoster vaccine live) thanks to the FDA’s approval of the vaccination for patients in that age group. Previously, it was only approved for patients ages 60 years and older.

“The new FDA recommendation means that Rite Aid pharmacists can now help a much wider range of patients protect themselves from this painful nerve disease,” Rite Aid EVP pharmacy Robert Thompson said. “The vaccine can often be administered to walk-in patients, making it an easy decision to get vaccinated against shingles.”

Shingles is a painful disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. While symptoms of chickenpox disappear in most children after a week or so, the virus, a form of herpes virus, remains in the nerve cells. Later in life, a compromised immune system or old age can reactivate the virus, resulting in shingles.

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