A recently published retrospective study* explored the risk of herpes zoster infection (or shingles) after receiving the live, attenuated varicella zoster virus (VZV) vaccine (Zostavax®). The 75,761 patients in the vaccinated cohort were age matched (1:3) to 227,283 in the unvaccinated group. Study findings demonstrated vaccine efficacy in a large, immunocompetent, heterogeneous population consisting of men and women =60 years of age in general practice settings. Herpes zoster vaccine recipients were more likely to be white, female, with more outpatient visits, and had fewer chronic conditions. Investigators found a significant risk reduction of herpes zoster infection across all ages and subgroups (e.g., healthy subjects and individuals with chronic disorders, such as diabetes, kidney, heart, and lung diseases). Receiving the VZV vaccine was associated with about a 55% reduced risk of developing shingles.
The VZV vaccine was approved by the US FDA in 2006 and recommended for use in adults =60 years of age without contraindications by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2007. According to a recent study by the CDC, only 10% of adults =60 years of age reported receiving the shingles vaccination in 2009, a slight increase from 6.7% reported in 2008. View survey results at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/stats-surv/nhis/2009-nhis.htm
*Tseng HF, Smith N, Harpaz R, Bialek SR, Sy LS, Jacobsen SJ. Herpes zoster vaccine in older adults and the risk of subsequent herpes zoster disease. JAMA 305(2):160-6 (2011 Jan 12).