According to a Vaccine Safety Datalink study, the herpes zoster vaccine, also known as the shingles vaccine, is generally safe and well tolerated. The study consisted of 193,083 adults and was published online in the Journal of Internal Medicine.
Over 1 million people in the U.S. develop shingles every year. Shingles is a contagious painful rash, which is caused by dormant chickenpox virus, which can reactivate and replicate, causing damage to the nerve system. Vulnerability increases with age, since immunity to shingles declines with age, causing elderly people to be more susceptible.
The Centers for Disease Control and prevention and integrated care organizations, such as Kaiser Permanente collaborated on the VSD project, which monitors immunization safety and focuses on gaps of knowledge about rare and serious events which occur after immunization.
The zoster vaccine was administered to 193,083 adults, 50 years and older. They looked at adverse events for these participants. The researchers found a minor increased risk of local reactions from days one to seven, after vaccination. There was minor local reaction at the site of injection that caused redness and pain.
There were no increased risks for: cardiovascular diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, encephalitis, encephalopathy, meningitis, Ramsay-Hunt syndrome, or Bell’s palsy.
"It's good to know there is no serious adverse reaction to the zoster vaccine. The study supports the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendation and reassures the general public that the vaccine is safe," said study lead author Hung Fu Tseng, PhD, MPH, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation in Pasadena, Calif.
The Vaccine Safety Datalink Team authors included: Hung Fu Tseng, PhD, MPH, Steven J. Jacobsen, MD, PhD, Amy Liu, MS, Lina Sy, MPH, and S. Michael Marcy, MD, from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation;