[MT Report] The Rising Costs and Demand for Shingles Vaccine: A Look into Prevention and Treatment
In recent years, the demand for the shingles vaccine has been on the rise due to the increasing prevalence of the disease. Shingles, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, is particularly prevalent during seasonal transitions when the immune system is weakened. As a result, the vaccine has become an essential preventive measure. However, the cost of the vaccine has reached up to 600,000 won, making it expensive for many individuals.
The good news is that in December of last year, an additional vaccine with a high antibody production rate was approved, offering better protection against shingles. Moreover, pharmaceutical companies are actively developing treatments for post-herpetic neuralgia, a condition that often follows shingles. With these advancements, the prevention and treatment of shingles are evolving.
Despite these positive developments, hospitals and clinics are facing a shortage of vaccines, leaving many individuals without access to this vital preventive measure. To address this issue, there is a growing possibility of introducing a free shingles vaccine program, which has gained popularity among the public.
It is important to understand the impact of shingles on public health. In Korea, approximately 700,000 people visit hospitals annually due to shingles. This disease occurs when the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox in childhood, reactivates and infects the nerves. As the population ages, the number of shingles cases continues to rise.
Shingles is characterized by the appearance of red rashes and blisters in a band-like pattern, primarily on the face, trunk, and shoulders. Accompanied by severe pain, these symptoms are more common in women, possibly due to hormonal factors.
Recognizing shingles can be challenging as the virus primarily affects the nerves, causing pain and abnormal sensations before skin symptoms manifest. The pain caused by shingles is often described as more intense than post-operative pain or colic, making it incredibly uncomfortable for those affected.
Shingles is an infectious disease that can spread when blisters burst and release the virus. While direct contact is the most common route of transmission, individuals with weakened immune systems can also contract the disease through respiratory exposure. However, exposure to the virus does not guarantee the development of shingles.
One of the primary concerns with shingles is the complications that may arise. Post-herpetic neuralgia, characterized by persistent and excruciating pain due to nerve damage, is a common complication. Additionally, shingles can lead to eye diseases, facial paralysis, deafness, and meningitis. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent these complications.
To prevent shingles, vaccination is the most effective method. Doctors recommend the shingles vaccine for individuals over the age of 50, especially those who have not previously contracted the virus. There are several vaccines available, including Zostavax, Sky Zoster, and Shingrix. While Zostavax and Sky Zoster are live attenuated vaccines, Shingrix is an inactivated vaccine, which is considered safer for immunocompromised individuals.
Studies have shown that Shingrix offers a higher preventive effect compared to Zostavax, with a 96% efficacy rate. As individuals age, the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases, but Shingrix continues to provide significant protection. Vaccination is generally recommended for those over 50, and individuals who have previously had shingles can receive the vaccine after a period of immune system stabilization.
It is worth noting that in Korea, the varicella vaccine has been included in the National Compulsory Vaccination Program for infants since 2005. This vaccine plays a crucial role in preventing the spread of the virus and indirectly reducing the occurrence of shingles in the population.
In conclusion, the rising costs and demand for the shingles vaccine highlight the need for increased accessibility and affordability. As the population ages and the incidence of shingles continues to rise, it is crucial to prioritize prevention and early treatment. By expanding vaccination programs and developing effective treatments for post-herpetic neuralgia, we can address this public health concern and alleviate the burden on individuals affected by shingles.
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Editorial comment | Shingles, which causes severe pain once caught, is well suited to changing seasons like these days. This is because it is good for invasion by taking advantage of the gap that immunity is easily weakened due to the large daily temperature difference. This is the background to the recent increase in demand for vaccines. Fortunately, in December of last year, an additional vaccine with a high antibody production rate was approved, and as the pharmaceutical industry accelerates the development of post-herpetic neuralgia treatment, the prevention and treatment of shingles is evolving. The problem is that the cost of the shingles vaccine has become expensive enough to reach up to 600,000 won. However, in hospitals and clinics, voices say, “There is nothing left.” We look at the possibility of applying a free shingles vaccine, which has increased in popularity, and the current status of development of post-herpetic neuralgia treatment and prevention methods.
In Korea, about 700,000 people visit hospitals with shingles every year. Shingles is a disease that develops when the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chicken pox as a child, hides in the nerve ganglia and reproduces when immunity weakens. It is considered a disease to be careful of, especially during the changing seasons when physical strength is low and fatigue is easy. The incidence rate increases with age, but in Korea, the number of patients is not decreasing because the population is aging rapidly.
Shingles is characterized by the appearance of band-shaped red rashes and blisters centered on the face, trunk and shoulders, accompanied by severe pain. Professor Joo Min-sook from the Department of Dermatology of Hanyang University Hospital explained, “The virus moves along the ‘road’ called a ganglion, and pain and skin symptoms appear as a band, mostly on one side. ” Statistically, it affects more women than men. It is assumed that female hormones are involved, but it is not clear.
Shingles is often recognized as an infection when it is revealed on the skin. However, as the virus’s real ‘target of attack’ is the nerve, most pain and abnormal sensations appear several days earlier, and rashes and blisters appear in groups in the final stage of inflammation which reach the skin. The shingles is often called the ‘king of pain’ because it is more intense than post-operative pain or colic. Professor Joo said, “Unlike trauma or muscle pain, when a virus causes nerve inflammation, you experience a level of pain you’ve never felt before, like ‘having cut you with a knife’ or ‘like being electrocuted.’ Pain alone does not confirm shingles, but if tingling pain occurs on one side, it is good to observe carefully with the possibility of shingles in mind.”
Shingles is an infectious disease. When a blister on the skin bursts, the virus inside spreads and causes an infection. Most cases are direct contact, but systemic (disseminated) zoster, which occurs mainly in immunocompromised people, can also be transmitted via the respiratory route. However, exposure to the virus does not cause shingles. Professor Seo Yu-bin, Hallym University Gangnam Hospital Sacred Heart Hospital, said, “The varicella-zoster virus, as the name suggests, is a virus that causes chicken pox and shingles. at the same time.” Herpes does not appear and the patient’s symptoms are not worsening.”
Shingles is dangerous for the complications that follow. Post-herpetic neuralgia is a typical example of experiencing excruciating pain for no particular reason due to nerve damage. In addition, eye diseases such as keratitis and retinitis, facial paralysis, deafness, and meningitis are among the complications caused by shingles. It is against this backdrop that experts emphasize early diagnosis and treatment. Professor Joo said, “Antiviral drugs must be given as soon as possible to stop the growth of the virus. Pain management through antibiotics and dressings to prevent secondary infections such as bacteria, steroids to reduce inflammation, and painkillers and antidepressants are also appropriately administered accordingly. “Although 72 hours before nerve damage becomes severe is the ‘golden time’, △ the elderly or △ when the skin lesions continue to increase △ patients with shingles on the face, even if time passes If you use the drug, you can expect the effect of improving symptoms,” he stressed.
Shingles is a latent virus that is activated when immunity decreases or age, so there is no special prevention method other than vaccination. Professor Joo said, “Doctors also recommend getting the shingles vaccine on their own or recommending the shingles vaccine to their parents.” Say. There are three types of shingles vaccine: MSD’s ‘Zostavax’, SK Bioscience’s ‘Sky Zoster’, and GSK’s ‘Shingrix’. The previous two vaccines are ‘live attenuated vaccines’ which remove toxicity by weakening live viruses, and the GSK vaccine is a killer vaccine which inactivates pathogens. Live vaccines have a preventive effect with a single vaccination, but in immunocompromised people, the vaccine can cause infectious diseases. On the contrary, the inactivated vaccine has high safety, but in the case of Shingrix, in order to stimulate an immune response, you have to suffer the inconvenience of having to vaccinate twice for a period of 2 to 6 months.
The GSK vaccine is a killed vaccine, but it is more effective than the live Zostavax and Skyzoster vaccines because it is made by mixing an immune enhancer. According to the medical community on the 6th, when considering the studies so far, the preventive effect of Zostavax is generally about 50%, but Shingrix is 96%. As the immune system ages with age, the vaccination effect gradually decreases, and the magnitude of this decrease also varies greatly, with 91% of Shingrix and 18% of Zostavax reporting a preventive effect in the some over 80 years old. Skyzoster is known to have a similar level of immune response to Zostavax and similar preventive effects.
Vaccination is usually recommended for people over the age of 50 to prevent shingles. If you’ve already had shingles, it’s safe to be stricken with a delay of six months to a year when your immune system stabilizes. In Korea, the positive rate of varicella antibodies in the age group recommended for vaccination is more than 90%, but if you have not had varicella, it is recommended to have a varicella antibody test before getting the live vaccine. Since 2005, varicella vaccine has been provided to all infants aged 12 to 15 months through the National Compulsory Vaccination Programme.
Professor Seo said, “To protect the elderly in the United States and other countries around the world, it is recommended to give inactivated vaccines as well even if live shingles vaccines (Zostavax, etc.) have been vaccinated before. ” As it is It is not clear whether it should be given, it would be desirable to decide whether to vaccinate or not after consulting a specialist who knows my physical condition well.”
[저작권자 @머니투데이, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]
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