Zoster Vaccine at Age 60+ Provides Highest Protection
The herpes zoster vaccine is FDA-approved for patients aged 50 and older. However, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that adults aged 60 and older should receive the zoster vaccine. Unity follows the ACIP recommendation and provides coverage for the vaccine at age 60 and older. Please check your patient’s coverage before administering the vaccine. The risk of zoster re-activation increases significantly at ages 50-60 years with the highest risk in patients 80-89 years.2
Studies have shown that the zoster vaccine has the most benefit when given to patients aged 60-69 years and the least benefit when given to patients aged 70 and older .3 Zoster protection and reduction in symptom severity decreases over time. Therefore administration of the vaccine in patients age 60 and older allows for the highest protection at the time of highest risk.2,3 Unity covers the zoster vaccine in patients aged 60 and older.
Patients on the antiviral medications: acyclovir (Zovirax™), famciclovir (Famvir™), and valacyclovir (Valtrex™) should stop their medication at least 24 hours before receiving the zoster vaccine. These medications interfere with herpes virus replication and should not be restarted for at least 14 days to ensure an adequate response to the vaccine.1
- Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. General recommendations on immunization: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6002a1.htm. Published January 2011. Accessed February 20, 2017.
- Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Prevention of Herpes Zoster: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5705a1.htm. Published June 2008. Accessed February 20, 2017.
- Levin MJ, Oxman MN, Zhang JH, et al. Varicella-zoster virus-specific immune responses in elderly recipients of a herpes zoster vaccine. J Infect Dis. 2008;197(6): 825-835.