Rates of hospitalisation for herpes zoster may warrant vaccinating Indigenous Australians under 70

Meru Sheel, Frank H Beard, Aditi Dey, Kristine Macartney and Peter B McIntyre
Med J Aust 2017; 207 (9): 395-396. || doi: 10.5694/mja16.01468

Herpes zoster (HZ) is caused by reactivation of latent varicella zoster virus infection. The most common complication of HZ is post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is often debilitating and refractory to treatment.1 The incidence of both HZ and PHN increases markedly with age.2 In November 2016, a vaccine for HZ was included in Australia’s National Immunisation Program (NIP) for all people aged 70, together with a 5-year catch-up program for those aged 71–79 years.3 The vaccine is cost-effective for people aged 70–79, but is registered for vaccinating people from age 50.3

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  • Meru Sheel1,2
  • Frank H Beard1,3
  • Aditi Dey1,3
  • Kristine Macartney1,3
  • Peter B McIntyre1,3

  • 1 National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT
  • 3 University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW


This work was supported by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance. Meru Sheel is a scholar in the Master of Philosophy in Applied Epidemiology program at the Australian National University.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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