Herpes zoster vaccination and healthy aging: What Is the link?

Herpes zoster vaccination and healthy aging: What Is the link? Herpes zoster (HZ), also known as shingles, is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. While chickenpox typically occurs in childhood, the VZV remains dormant in nerve cells after the initial infection. As the immune system weakens with age, this dormant virus can become reactivated, leading to HZ.

The incidence of HZ is steadily increasing worldwide, primarily due to the aging population. In the United States alone, over one million cases of HZ are reported annually, with the majority occurring in adults aged 50 years and older. The risk of HZ increases significantly with age, with individuals aged 80 years and older having a lifetime risk of approximately 50%.

How Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Affects Your Health

HZ can cause severe pain, often described as burning, stabbing, or shooting. In some cases, the pain can persist for months or even years, a condition known as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, limiting daily activities and causing emotional distress.

How Shingles Vaccination Helps Prevent Shingles and PHN

Recombinant Zoster Vaccine (RZV) is a non-live vaccine that offers a safe and effective solution for preventing HZ and its complications. Unlike the older Zoster Vaccine Live (ZVL) vaccine, RZV is particularly effective in older adults and individuals with weakened immune systems.

Clinical trials have demonstrated the remarkable efficacy of RZV in preventing HZ. In adults aged 50 years and older, RZV has been shown to be 90% effective in preventing HZ-related pain and 80% effective in preventing PHN.

RZV is also effective in reducing the severity of HZ in individuals who do develop the rash. Studies have shown that RZV can reduce the duration of HZ pain by up to 50% and the intensity of pain by up to 60%.

Safety and Cost-Effectiveness of RZV

RZV is generally safe, with side effects that are typically mild to moderate and short-lived. The most common side effects include pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site.

RZV has also been shown to be cost-effective. A study in Germany found that the number needed to vaccinate (NNV) with RZV to prevent one case of shingles and PHN was between six and 10 and 38 and 48, respectively. This means that vaccinating a relatively small number of individuals with RZV can prevent a significant number of cases of HZ and PHN, saving healthcare costs and improving quality of life.

Recommendations for RZV Vaccination

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends RZV vaccination for adults aged 50 years and older. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) also recommends RZV vaccination for adults aged 19 years and older who have weakened immune systems due to disease or therapy.

RZV represents a significant breakthrough in HZ prevention and management. Its high efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness make it an essential tool for reducing the burden of HZ on individuals and society. Widespread vaccination with RZV has the potential to significantly improve the lives of millions of adults worldwide.

In addition to the above, here are some additional key points about shingles vaccination and healthy aging:

  • Shingles vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent shingles and its complications, including PHN.
  • Shingles vaccination is particularly important for older adults, who are at higher risk of developing shingles and PHN.
  • Shingles vaccination can help improve quality of life by reducing pain and disability associated with shingles.
  • Shingles vaccination is a cost-effective way to prevent shingles and its complications.

If you are an adult aged 50 years or older, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated against shingles. Shingles vaccination is an important part of healthy aging and can help you stay healthy and active as you get older. Source


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Last Updated on November 30, 2023 by shalw

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