GSK Egypt has announced the launch of the "Shingrix" vaccine for the prevention of shingles.

Wednesday 1 May 2024

This announcement was made at a major scientific event attended by a large number of doctors and healthcare experts from various medical sectors in Egypt and worldwide.



During the conference, the importance of vaccination for adults and the benefits of disease prevention and maintaining a healthy life as one ages were highlighted. 

The event was attended by specialists from internal medicine, cardiology, nephrology, oncology, dermatology, neurology, and other fields. This significant and diversified  attendance reflects the medical community's interest in preventing this disease and avoiding the symptoms and complications that the elderly and those with weakened immune systems may experience.

The presence of doctors from various medical specialties at the conference underscores the focus on educating those most at risk from shingles about the disease and methods of prevention and treatment. This reflects the large number of people who may be susceptible to shingles and the important role of doctors in raising awareness about how to prevent this disease. 

Studies confirm that shingles can cause painful symptoms and multiple complications.

Experts explained during the conference that the "Shingrix" vaccine provides protection from shingles. The vaccine was developed using the latest global technologies to prevent the risk of infection among adults. The Egyptian Drug Authority has approved the use of the "Shingrix" vaccine in Egypt, and the following groups may receive the vaccine (after consulting a doctor):
- Everyone aged 50 and above.
- Those aged 18 and above who have weakened immune systems due to chronic diseases or immunosuppressive treatments.

These groups are most at risk for contracting shingles and its complications. Experts added that with aging, there is a functional decline in immunity in all people, which increases the risk of certain diseases, including shingles.

Dr. Mohamed Awad Tag El-Din, Professor of Pulmonary Diseases, confirmed that scientific research and medical statistics show that older adults, especially those with chronic diseases, are more susceptible to various diseases and their complications. Among these diseases that older adults and those with weakened immunity are susceptible to is shingles. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, which remains dormant and inactive in the nerve cells and can reactivate later, causing shingles, which is characterized by severe pain and a painful rash. Vaccination can prevent this disease. He also noted that vaccination for older adults is crucial as vaccines provide an effective way to protect people from diseases before exposure, especially as they age. Vaccinations use the body's natural defense mechanisms to build the ability to resist diseases and strengthen your immune system by training it to produce antibodies, just as it would if it were fighting the disease itself, but in a way that avoids the disease and its symptoms and complications.

Dr. Mahmoud Abdullah, Professor of Dermatology and Venereology at Ain Shams University's Faculty of Medicine, explained, "One of the symptoms that patients with shingles suffer from is severe pain in the affected area caused by the rash, described as very painful or similar to the pain of being burned or like pinpricks or an electric shock." He noted, "People who have contracted the disease might contract it again with different complications from the previous infection, so it is important to get vaccinated to avoid infection and possible complications." He added, "It is necessary to ensure complete recovery from all symptoms in case of infection before vaccination with 'Shingrix', and it is essential to consult a doctor before getting the vaccine in all cases."

Dr. Hatem Samir, Professor of Neurology at Kasr Al-Ainy Faculty of Medicine, stated that the launch of the "Shingrix" vaccine in Egypt is a very important step in protecting those most at risk for shingles and its complications. A person with shingles experiences painful symptoms represented by a rash that lasts from a week to several weeks. He explained that about 20% of those affected by shingles suffer from long-term nerve pain, which may take months to recover from the acute nerve pain caused by the rash, and in other cases, the pain may become chronic. In some of these cases, more serious complications such as bacterial skin infections, loss of vision or hearing or taste, and rarely, it may lead to brain inflammation or meningitis, or organ failure.

Dr. Mohsen Mokhtar, Professor of Oncology at Kasr Al-Ainy Faculty of Medicine, pointed out that the "Shingrix" vaccine provides immune protection against infection, which is significant if you are 18 years of age or older and suffer from a weakened immune system or chronic diseases. He recommends this group get vaccinated to prevent the disease as they are more susceptible to shingles due to immune system weakness.

During this conference where the launch of the "Shingrix" vaccine was announced, Engineer Hassan Fahmi General Manager of GSK Egypt, spoke about the importance of introducing the "Shingrix" vaccine in Egypt after receiving approval from the Egyptian Drug Authority. Fahmi emphasized that the introduction of "Shingrix" in Egypt is part of the commitment of all relevant Egyptian authorities, including the Drug Authority and the Ministry of Health and Population, alongside GSK, a leader in healthcare, to ensure the health of Egyptian citizens and their right to access modern vaccines and medicines manufactured using the latest innovative technologies at the same time as their global rollout.

About  shingles:
Shingles is a disease that causes painful symptoms due to a viral infection that affects the skin and nerves. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, which most adults have been exposed to. The virus remains dormant in the nerve tissues and can reactivate later, leading to shingles.

The risk of the virus reactivating and causing shingles increases with age, especially in individuals over 50 years old, as the immune response to the varicella-zoster virus gradually becomes less effective with age, allowing for the reactivation of the dormant virus.

Typically, the symptoms of shingles manifest as a painful rash on one side of the body and usually last for several weeks. While most people fully recover, shingles can lead to serious and long-term complications. The most common complication is postherpetic neuralgia, where about 20% of those affected suffer from long-term nerve pain in the affected area, which can last for several months or longer. Other more serious complications can include bacterial skin infections, loss of vision or hearing or taste, pneumonia, muscle weakness, and in rare casesp, meningitis, paralysis, organ failure, or death.

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