Does a Recent Herpes Zoster Episode Preclude Vaccination?

April 1, 2007

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendsthe zoster vaccine for persons aged 60 years and older, whether ornot they have had a previous episode of herpes zoster.

 

My patient recently had herpes zoster. Should she be given the zoster vaccine?- Herbert Gersh, MD
   Treasure Island, Fla

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends the zoster vaccine for persons aged 60 years and older, whether or not they have had a previous episode of herpes zoster.1 The vaccine may be effective in preventing a second outbreak of herpes zoster, although there are no data yet on secondary prevention. However, if a patient has had a documented case of herpes zoster in the past 3 to 4 years, the zoster vaccine may not be necessary; a natural episode boosts immunity as well as or better than the vaccine.
- Kenneth Schmader, MD
  Vice Chief, Division of Geriatrics
  Duke University and Durham VA Medical Centers
  Durham, NC

References:

REFERENCE:1.ACIP Provisional Recommendations for the Use of Zoster Vaccine. November 20, 2006. http://www.cdc.gov/nip/recs/provisional_recs/zoster-11-20-06.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2007.