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Herpes zoster vaccination rates and incidence of shingles
The herpes zoster vaccine cuts the rate of shingles by 55% in the elderly population according to a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California performed a retrospective cohort study of health plan members, 75,000 of whom were vaccinated against shingles (age 60 and older) and 225,000 age-matched controls who did not receive vaccine. The rate of herpes zoster was 6.4/1000 person-years in the vaccinated group and 13.0/1000 person-years in the unvaccinated group (hazard ratio, 0.45; 95% confidence interval, 0.42-0.48). Reduction in herpes zoster occurred in all age groups and among individuals with chronic disease. The rate of ophthalmic herpes zoster and hospitalizations for herpes zoster were also significantly reduced.
The authors of the study concluded that among immunocompetent community-dwelling adults age 60 and older, receipt of the herpes zoster vaccine was associated with a lower incidence of herpes zoster (JAMA 2011;305:160-166). The study is important because only 10% of those aged 60 and older received the shingles vaccine in 2009, whereas nearly one of three people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime.