May 15, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended that people ages 60 and above should get Merck & Co Inc’s vaccine Zostavax to protect against shingles.

The CDC said the recommendation replaces a provisional one it made in 2006 after the vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommended by a CDC advisory panel of immunization experts.

Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same one that causes chicken pox.

There is no cure for shingles, which causes a painful, blistering rash. After a person has had chicken pox, the virus remains dormant in the body, and years later can reactivate as shingles.

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