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
- 1. Cunningham AL, Breuer J, Dwyer DE, et al. The prevention and management of herpes zoster. Med J Aust 2008; 188: 171-176. <MJA full text>
- 2. MacIntyre R, Stein A, Harrison C, et al. Increasing trends of herpes zoster in Australia. PLoS One 2015; 10: e0125025.
- 3. Australian Government Department of Health. Zoster virus vaccine live; 0.65 mL injection, prefilled syringe; Zostavax® [Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee public summary document]. Nov 2014. http://www.pbs.gov.au/industry/listing/elements/pbac-meetings/psd/2014-11/files/zoster-vaccine-psd-11-2014.pdf (accessed Dec 2016).
- 4. Department of Health. National Immunisation Program Schedule (from 20 April 2015). Nov 2016. http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/national-immunisation-program-schedule (accessed Dec 2016).
- 5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Indigenous identification in hospital separations data: quality report (AIHW Cat. No. HSE 85; Health Services Series No. 35). Canberra: AIHW, 2010.
- 6. Liu B, Heywood AE, Reekie J, et al. Risk factors for herpes zoster in a large cohort of unvaccinated older adults: a prospective cohort study. Epidemiol Infect 2015; 143: 2871-2881.
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