These recommendations represent the first statement by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on the use of a live attenuated vaccine for the prevention of herpes zoster (zoster) (i.e., shingles) and its sequelae, which was licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 25, 2006. This report summarizes the epidemiology of zoster and its sequelae, describes the zoster vaccine, and provides recommendations for its use among adults aged >60 years in the United States.
Zoster is a localized, generally painful cutaneous eruption that occurs most frequently among older adults and immunocompromised persons. It is caused by reactivation of latent varicella zoster virus (VZV) decades after initial VZV infection is established. Approximately one in three persons will develop zoster during their lifetime, resulting in an estimated 1 million episodes in the United States annually. A common complication of zoster is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a chronic, often debilitating pain condition that can last months or even years. The risk for PHN in patients with zoster is 10%--18%. Another complication of zoster is eye involvement, which occurs in 10%--25% of zoster episodes and can result in prolonged or permanent pain, facial scarring, and loss of vision. Approximately 3% of patients with zoster are hospitalized; many of these episodes involved persons with one or more immunocompromising conditions. Deaths attributable to zoster are uncommon among persons who are not immunocompromised. Prompt treatment with the oral antiviral agents acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir decreases the severity and duration of acute pain from zoster. Additional pain control can be achieved in certain patients by supplementing antiviral agents with corticosteroids and with analgesics. Established PHN can be managed in certain patients with analgesics, tricyclic antidepressants, and other agents.
Licensed zoster vaccine is a lyophilized preparation of a live, attenuated strain of VZV, the same strain used in the varicella vaccines. However, its minimum potency is at least 14-times the potency of single-antigen varicella vaccine. In a large clinical trial, zoster vaccine was partially efficacious at preventing zoster. It also was partially efficacious at reducing the severity and duration of pain and at preventing PHN among those developing zoster. Zoster vaccine is recommended for all persons aged >60 years who have no contraindications, including persons who report a previous episode of zoster or who have chronic medical conditions. The vaccine should be offered at the patient's first clinical encounter with his or her health-care provider. It is administered as a single 0.65 mL dose subcutaneously in the deltoid region of the arm. A booster dose is not licensed for the vaccine. Zoster vaccination is not indicated to treat acute zoster, to prevent persons with acute zoster from developing PHN, or to treat ongoing PHN. Before administration of zoster vaccine, patients do not need to be asked about their history of varicella (chickenpox) or to have serologic testing conducted to determine varicella immunity.