Shingles vaccine found to be safe and effective after chemotherapy

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According to a Kaiser Permanente study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine is safe and effective at preventing shingles in older adults that may be immunocompromised after receiving chemotherapy. The study found that patients that had received the herpes zoster vaccine were still less likely to develop shingles compared to the unvaccinated group despite both groups having previously undergone chemotherapy; however, vaccinated patients were more likely to develop shingles if they received the herpes zoster vaccine within 60 days before initiating chemotherapy. Zero vaccinated patients and six unvaccinated patients were hospitalized for shingles during the study.

The CDC recommends the zoster vaccine in patients greater than 60 years of age, but the vaccine is contraindicated in immunocompromised patients due to the vaccine being a live attenuated virus. Adults greater than 50 years of age are more likely to develop shingles, a painful localized skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone that has had chickenpox may develop shingles because the varicella zoster virus lies dormant in the nerves cells of the body until reappearing as shingles many years later. The risk of the virus reappearing is increased when the patient is immunocompromised.

Shingles vaccine found to be safe and effective after chemotherapy
Shingles vaccine found to be safe and effective after chemotherapy
The herpes zoster vaccine continues to be effective in protecting older adults against shingles, even after they undergo chemotherapy, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published today in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Researchers examined the electronic health records of more than 21,000 Kaiser Permanente patients in Southern California who were 60 years of age and older and received chemotherapy between January 2007 and December 2012.
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