Zostavax now approved for patients ages 50 years and older

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a vaccine for shingles in older patients.

The agency said Thursday that it had approved Merck’s Zostavax (zoster vaccine live) vaccine in patients ages 50 to 59 years. The vaccine already is approved for those ages 60 years and older.

Shingles, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox, affects about 200,000 people in the United States ages 50 to 59 years each year.

While chickenpox mostly affects children, the virus lies dormant in certain nerves in the body, sometimes coming back in the form of shingles later in life, usually in older patients and in those with weakened immune systems.

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