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Vaccine Reduces Risk of Herpes Zoster

In immunocompetent adults over age 60, herpes vaccine protects from herpes zoster

TUESDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Receipt of the herpes zoster vaccine among immunocompetent community-dwelling adults aged 60 and older is associated with a reduced incidence of herpes zoster, ophthalmic herpes zoster, and hospitalizations for herpes zoster, according to a study published in the Jan. 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Hung Fu Tseng, Ph.D., from Southern California Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, and colleagues studied the risk of contracting herpes zoster after vaccination against the disease. The investigators studied 75,761 immunocompetent participants aged 60 and older who had been vaccinated from 2007 to 2009 and matched them by age with 227,283 unvaccinated control patients.

The researchers found that the recipients of the herpes zoster vaccine were mostly white and female. They logged more outpatient visits and had fewer chronic diseases than the unvaccinated group. In vaccinated patients, there were 6.4 herpes zoster cases per 1,000 person-years, compared with 13.0 per 1,000 in the unvaccinated group. Overall, there was a 55 percent decreased risk of herpes zoster, and this was true across all ages and in patients with chronic diseases. Researchers also found that ophthalmic herpes zoster and hospitalizations coded for herpes zoster occurred less frequently in patients who received the vaccine.

"In conclusion, we found that individuals aged 60 years or older who received herpes zoster vaccine had a reduced risk of herpes zoster regardless of age, race, and presence of chronic diseases," the authors write.

The authors disclosed that funding support for the study came from Merck.

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