The New Shingles Vaccine Is Almost Here & It's Incredibly Effective

Shingles disease viral infection concept as a medical illustration with skin blisters hives and sores on a human back torso as a health symbol for a painful rash condition.

Getting shingles is not pleasant.

First, a burning pain breaks out across parts of the body — most often the trunk and waist. Then, the painful areas erupt in fluid-filled blisters, sometimes accompanied by fatigue or fever.

Most common in adults over age 50, shingles is both contagious and can be followed by postherpetic neuralgia: a debilitating, long-term nerve pain. The most common vaccine, Zostavax, is only marginally effective, protecting about half of adults over 60.

That changed in October, when an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved a brand-new vaccine with a more than 90 percent efficacy rate.

Shingrix, made by GlaxoSmithKline, is expected to be available as early as the end of November for $213, although insurance companies will probably not yet cover it.

Shingrex, shingles, shingles vaccineShingrix Logo.

In large, years-long international trials, Shingrix was shown to prevent shingles in 97 percent of adults in their 50s and 60s, and 91 percent of adults in their 70s and 80s. Side effects were minor and generally limited to soreness, headache, shivering and upset stomach.

“This vaccine has spectacular initial protection rates in every age group. The immune system of a 70- or 80-year-old responds as if the person were only 25 or 30,” Dr. William Schaffner, preventive disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told The New York Times.

Unlike the old vaccine, Zostavax, Shingrix contains an adjuvant, which increases the immune system’s response, as well as an inactive virus. Many people with allergies were unable to receive Zostavax as it contains a live virus. The CDC panel recommends that anyone previously vaccinated with Zostavax receive the two doses of Shingrix.

Shingles comes from the varicella-zoster virus — the same one that causes childhood chickenpox. Because of this, almost all adults over 40 years old harbor varicella-zoster. After the virus manifests as chickenpox, it then permanently lodges itself in nerve tissue near the spinal cord. In some people it remains dormant forever, but in others it can cause multiple outbreaks of shingles in late middle age. Why varicella-zoster reactivates as shingles in some people and not others isn’t known, but theories point to genetics or a possible environmental trigger.

Chickenpox was once so common in the U.S. it was practically a rite of passage — in fact, many children of the 1970s and ’80s may remember parents arranging “pox parties,” where children got together in a group and were deliberately exposed to someone with the virus. The thinking went that by ensuring a child contracted chickenpox at a young age, they could avoid catching it as an adult, when symptoms are typically more severe.

However, contrary to popular belief, chickenpox was not a benign illness — it sometimes resulted in serious complications or even death. Before the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine in 1995, 100 children died from the virus each year, with many more going on to contract pneumonia and infections from bacteria that entered scratched blisters. Chickenpox is now considered rare in America.

Whether the chickenpox vaccine can also prevent shingles has yet to be seen, as the first round of children to receive it are now just 22 years old — decades away from the age when shingles typically appears. However, experts are clear that it’s best not to wait to find out.

“A million cases [of shingles] occur in the United States each and every year,” Dr. Schaffner said. “If you’re fortunate enough to reach your 80th birthday, you stand a one-in-three to one-in-two chance of shingles.”


If you think Fox News is the most loyal network to President Donald Trump, you likely haven't heard of One America News Network, or OAN.

The unabashedly pro-Trump network—largely considered a far-Right fringe outlet—has enjoyed expanded viewership over recent years thanks to glowing reviews from the President.

It's even been added to the prestigious White House press pool.

People were reminded of the network's bizarre Trump-era ascension during Monday's White House press briefing regarding the pandemic that—at the time of this writing—has resulted in over 3,000 deaths across the United States.

OAN's White House correspondent Chanel Rion compared the growing number of deaths from the pandemic to abortion procedures, asking Trump if abortions should be suspended all together.

The question flummoxed Trump himself.

Watch below.

Rion said:

"2,405 Americans have died from [the virus] in the last 60 days. Meanwhile, you have 2,369 children who are killed by their mothers through elective abortions each day. That's 16 and a half thousand children killed every week. Two states have suspended elective abortion to make more resources available...Should more states be doing the same?"

Even Trump seemed confused by the question, and notably didn't wade into the abortion aspect of the question:

"I think what we're doing, we're trying to, as a group ,governors—and that's Republicans and Democrats—we're just working together to solve this problem. What you're mentioning has been going on for a long time and it's a sad event, a lot of sad events in this country. But what we're doing now is working on the virus...and I think we're doing a great job—as good a job as you can possibly do."

People noticed that even Trump—either purposely or otherwise—didn't take the bait from one of his favorite networks.

Rion, who is Asian-American, previously made headlines when she asked Trump—who'd been criticized for describing the virus as "Chinese Virus"—if the phrase "Chinese food" was racist.

Her questions, while satiating viewers who prioritize "owning the libs" over potentially lifesaving information, have only confirmed the degradation of the press corps under the Trump era.

OAN's only redeemable quality? It doesn't claim to be "fair and balanced."

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images // Duffy-Marie Arnoult/WireImage

Even in the face of a global pandemic, President Donald Trump hasn't dispensed with his typical pettiness.

The President made that perfectly clear on Sunday afternoon, as deaths caused by the national health crisis continued to increase.

Keep reading... Show less
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images // Hernando County Sheriff

After weeks of dismissing the current pandemic as little more than a flu overblown by the media to undermine his presidency, President Donald Trump and his administration are finally beginning to acknowledge the severity of the threat posed by the virus that's upended daily life in the United States.

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne apparently hadn't gotten that memo.

Keep reading... Show less
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Donald Trump held his pandemic press briefing in the Rose Garden on Sunday—but his mood was far from rosy.

One particularly heated exchange came when he took a question from PBS NewsHour's White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor.

Alcindor asked Trump about the the skepticism he expressed that New York—the epicenter of the health crisis facing the United States—was exaggerating the number of lifesaving ventilators it needs to help curb the virus.

Trump interrupted Alcindor, claiming he "didn't say" that, then proceeded to berate her for her so-called "threatening" question.

Watch below.

Alcindor asked:

"You've said repeatedly that you think that some of the equipment governors are requesting, they don't actually need. You said New York might not need 30 thousand—"

Trump interrupted:

"I didn't say that. I didn't say that. Why don't you people...why don't you act in a little more positive? It's always trying to get me. Getcha, getcha. You know what, that's why nobody trusts the media anymore."

Though the President didn't reciprocate, Alcindor remained professional and repeated her question despite the President's attacks on her journalistic integrity in front of her colleagues.

What's more, Alcindor was right—and video proves it.

Alcindor referred to statements Trump made on far-right Fox News host Sean Hannity's show.

Watch below.

Trump said:

"I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they're going to be. I don't believe you need 40 thousand or 30 thousand ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, they'll have two ventilators and now all of a sudden they're saying, 'can we have 30 thousand ventilators?'"

Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has made clear that New York has yet to reach the height of the pandemic. The current number of ventilators is not enough to treat all of the infections to come, which could force doctors into rationing them and choosing not to treat patients with less optimistic prognoses.

Alcindor later pointed out that Trump did, in fact, express skepticism that New York was asking for ventilators they didn't need.

People called Trump out for responding to his own words with petty attacks.

They praised Alcindor for holding him accountable when so many others won't.

This was far from the first time Trump personally attacked Alcindor for doing her job.

Astonishingly, Trump denied his own words again in the same press conference when CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond asked Trump to elaborate on his Friday statements that governors aren't being "appreciative" enough of him and his administration.

If a President isn't beholden to congressional oversight, basic transparency, and even his own words, how can he be beholden to the American people?

For more stories of Trump's ineptitude from people who were there, check out A Very Stable Genius, available here.

Fox News

As the apex of the current pandemic looms in the United States, more and more Americans have begun working from home in an effort to slow the virus.

Television hosts aren't an exception to this—including far-Right Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro, whose performance on air this past Saturday night seemed a

Keep reading... Show less
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The health crisis in the United States continues to worsen in the face of the global pandemic, passing the 100,000 mark of confirmed virus cases—just days after earning the grim distinction of having more cases than any other country in the world.

Due to a dire shortage of lifesaving medical equipment, governors across the country are imploring the federal government to invoke its powers to compel private companies to manufacture more equipment and oversee distribution of what's already available.

Keep reading... Show less