A new herpes zoster (HZ) subunit vaccine (HZ/su) appears to be more effective especially among elderly and longer duration of protection and less costly than the currently used live attenuated HZ vaccine (ZVL) at all ages, a new study published online January 2 in JAMA Internal Medicine shows.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the ZVL vaccine in 2006 for prevention of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). However, it does not prevent all HZ, especially in elderly patients, and its efficacy wanes over time.
HZ/su is a new adjuvanted HZ subunit vaccine that was developed to help address these issues. Administered as a two-dose series, unlike ZVL, HZ/su may be used in immunocompromised patients.
The vaccine seems to offer levels of protection of at least 90%, even among individuals aged 70 years or older.
The FDA Advisory Committee voted unanimously in September 2017 in favor of using the HZ/su vaccine for prevention of HZ in adults aged 50 years and older.