BACKGROUND - After completion of the Shingles Prevention Study (SPS; Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Program Number 403), SPS participants who had initially received placebo were offered investigational zoster vaccine without charge. This provided an opportunity to determine the relative safety of zoster vaccine in older adults following documented herpes zoster (HZ).
METHODS - A total of 13 681 SPS placebo recipients who elected to receive zoster vaccine were followed for serious adverse events (SAE) for 28 days after vaccination. In contrast to the SPS, a prior episode of HZ was not a contraindication to receiving zoster vaccine. The SPS placebo recipients who received zoster vaccine included 420 who had developed documented HZ during the SPS.
RESULTS - The mean interval between the onset of HZ and the receipt of zoster vaccine in the 420 recipients with prior HZ was 3.61 years (median interval, 3.77 years [range, 3-85 months]); the interval was <5 years for approximately 80% of recipients. The proportion of vaccinated SPS placebo recipients with prior HZ who developed ≥ 1 SAE (0.95%) was not significantly different from that of vaccinated SPS placebo recipients with no prior history of HZ (0.66%), and the distribution of SAEs in the 2 groups was comparable.
CONCLUSIONS - These results demonstrate that the general safety of zoster vaccine in older persons is not altered by a recent history of documented HZ, supporting the safety aspect of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendation to administer zoster vaccine to all persons ≥ 60 years of age with no contraindications, regardless of a prior history of HZ.