The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics
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In Brief: Herpes Zoster Vaccine (Zostavax) Revisited

The 2006 Medical Letter article on the then-new varicella-zoster vaccine concluded that Zostavax appears to be safe and effective in protecting patients ≥60 years old against herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia, especially in reducing the severity and duration of the disease.1 Some new information has recently become available.

CLINICAL STUDIES — A Veterans Administration randomized, double-blind trial enrolled more than 38,000 patients ≥60 years old and followed them for a mean of 3.4 years after administration of Zostavax or placebo. Since the efficacy of the vaccine had been demonstrated previously (51% in preventing zoster and 67% in preventing postherpetic neuralgia), the objective of this study was to examine its safety. Transient varicella-like rash occurred at the inoculation site in 0.11% of vaccine recipients and in 0.04% of patients who received a placebo ... more      

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