A Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) study of 193,083 adults vaccinated with the herpes zoster vaccine, also called the shingles vaccine, is generally safe and well tolerated, according to a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.
Vaccination data were obtained from electronic health records of adults aged 50 and older who received the vaccine between Jan. 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2008.
Researchers found a small risk of redness and pain at the site of the injection occurred within a week of vaccination, but no increased risk for cerebrovascular or cardiovascular diseases; meningitis, encephalitis, and encephalopathy; Ramsay-Hunt syndrome; or Bell's palsy.
The herpes zoster vaccine was licensed in 2006, but national data shows few people have been vaccinated. At least 1 million people develop shingles every year in the United States. In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the herpes zoster vaccine for people aged 50 to 59. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends the vaccine for healthy people ages 60 years and older. Shingles is caused by a dormant chickenpox virus which can reactivate and replicate, damaging the nerve system. The elderly are more vulnerable to developing shingles because of reduced immunity.
The study supports the findings from clinical trials and provides reassurance that the zoster vaccine is generally safe and well-tolerated with a small increased risk of allergic reactions in 1-7 days after vaccination, according to lead study author Hung Fu Tseng, PhD, MPH, a research scientist with Kaiser Permanente.