Update on herpes zoster vaccination: a family practitioner’s guide.
Can Fam Physician. 2011 Oct;57(10):1127-31.
Shapiro M1, Kvern B, Watson P, Guenther L, McElhaney J, McGeer A.
1Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, ON, Canada. MarlaMD@aol.com
To answer frequently asked questions surrounding the use of the new herpes zoster (HZ) vaccine.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION:
Published results of clinical trials and other studies, recommendations from the Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization, and the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices; data were also obtained from the vaccine’s Health Canada-approved product monograph.
Herpes zoster results from reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus; postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is its most common and serious complication. The incidence of PHN after HZ is directly related to age, with 50% of affected individuals older than 60 years experiencing persistent and unrelieved pain. The live virus HZ vaccine reduces the incidence of HZ by about 50% and the occurrence of PHN by two-thirds, with vaccinated individuals experiencing attenuated or shortened symptoms. The vaccine is contraindicated in many immunocompromised patients and might not be effective in patients taking antiviral medications active against the HZ virus. Physicians should be aware of the different recommendations for these groups.
The HZ vaccine is a safe and effective preventive measure for reducing the overall burden and severity of HZ in older adults. The vaccine appears to be cost-effective when administered to adults aged 60 years and older