Seniors with recent shingles episodes are not likely to face recurrence, study suggests

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Elderly adults who have had a single episode of shingles have a relatively low short-term risk for coming down with the painful skin condition again, regardless of vaccination status, new research confirms.

"This study's findings are important because we found that the risk of having a recurrent shingles episode is not as high as previous research indicates," Kaiser Permanente researcher Hung-Fu Tseng, Ph.D., said. “We now have empirical data that show the risk of recurrence is low among an elderly population who did not have compromised immune systems, regardless of their vaccination status."

Led by Tseng, investigators analyzed health records of more than 6,000 people over the age of 60 who had cases of shingles, and then monitored the patients over a two-year follow up period to look at recurrence. At the conclusion of the follow-up period, researchers observed fewer than 30 recurrent cases of shingles, and very little difference in the rate of recurrence among vaccinated and unvaccinated participants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommends those aged 60 and over be vaccinated against shingles.

The findings were published Tuesday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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