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Imported shingles vaccine available in Beijing, Shanghai

Xinhua|Updated: 2020-07-03

BEIJING -- An imported vaccine against shingles for people aged 50 and above has been available in Beijing and Shanghai from the beginning of this month, the Science and Technology Daily reported.

The vaccine, Shingrix, was developed by British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. China's National Medical Products Administration approved it for the market in May.

It is on a list of 48 "clinically urgently needed new drugs" for fast-track approval by the administration, and is currently the only recombinant shingles vaccine on China's market.

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus. It is characterized by a painful rash with blisters that wrap around either side of the torso.

"The disease also causes nerve pain, which can be more severe than labor pain or cancer pain. In some cases, it may lead to mental disorders and depression," said Xu Jinhua, a skin disease expert at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai.

According to a media report, a woman surnamed Fang, accompanied by her daughter, was the first vaccine recipient at a Shanghai community health care center on Thursday. The daughter said the disease had caused a great deal of suffering for her grandfather.

"Even a slight touch from clothing can be excruciating," the daughter recalled.

Shingles affects nearly 3 million adults in China every year, with 1.56 million new cases. People over 50 are at higher risk of shingles.

With limited therapies available, vaccination is the most effective way to contain the disease.

Apart from healthy adults, people who had shingles in the past can also get the vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease.

The vaccine requires two shots over two months, with one shot priced at 1603.5 yuan (about 227 U.S. dollars).