Vaccine for herpes zoster

Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment
Record ID 32006000150
English, French
Authors' objectives:

The aim of this study was to summarize the available information on the use of zoster vaccine live (trade mark Zostavax, manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc.).

Authors' recommendations: Shingles is caused by reactivation of dormant varicella-zoster virus (the virus that causes chicken pox) in nerves. As immunity to the varicella-zoster virus weakens (with age, for example) the reactivated virus can damage sensory nerve cells, causing pain. It then migrates to the skin, causing the blistering rash of shingles (herpes zoster). The most common complication is postherpetic neuralgia, a continual, often debilitating, nerve pain that can last for months to years. The annual incidence of herpes zoster varies from 2.2 cases to 3.4 cases per 1,000 adults, increasing with age. About 50% of untreated adults with herpes zoster over the age of 60 develop postherpetic neuralgia, and the incidence increases to approximately 75% in untreated adults over the age of 70. Postherpetic neuralgia is especially difficult to treat, and Zostavax has proved to be effective in reducing the incidence. However, it is important to note that these findings stem from only one study. The best way to prevent postherpetic neuralgia may be to prevent herpes zoster itself.
Authors' methods: Overview
Project Status: Completed
URL for project:
Year Published: 2006
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Not Assigned
Country: Canada
MeSH Terms
  • Herpes Zoster
  • Neuralgia, Postherpetic
Organisation Name: Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment
Contact Address: 600-865 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, ON K1S 5S8 Canada. Tel: +1 613 226 2553, Fax: +1 613 226 5392;
Contact Name:
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Copyright: Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment (CCOHTA)
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