Shingrix Vaccine Reported Very Effective With Stem Cell Patients

GSK Herpes Zoster Vaccine Shingrix reduced the incidence of herpes zoster in autologous stem cell transplant recipients

group of people talking about the study

The non-live herpes zoster vaccine Shingrix was found to reduce the occurrence of herpes zoster (shingles) among patients who had undergone stem-cell transplantation with their own stem cells.

This phase 3 clinical trial published in JAMA on July 9, 2019, found a 2-dose course of Shringrix vaccine compared with placebo, significantly reduced the incidence of herpes zoster over a median follow-up of 21 months. 

This is important news since the risk for a case of shingles increases after this type of stem-cell transplantation, said these Duke University researchers in a press release on July 9, 2019. 

Additionally, a preventive shingles vaccine that contains a weakened live strain of the shingles virus isn't recommended for these immunocompromised patients.   

This study was conducted in 28 countries including 1,846 patients who had undergone stem cell transplantation. During a follow-up of about 21 months, an incidence of 30 cases per 1000 person-years after 2 doses of the vaccine was compared with 94 per 1000 person-years after placebo. 

This difference was reported to be statistically significant by these researchers. 

Shingles vaccination is the only way to protect against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), the most common complication from shingles, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

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The CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get 2 doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months, to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease.   

Two doses of Shingrix is more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles and PHN. 

Protection stays above 85 percent for at least the first 4 years after you get vaccinated, says the CDC.

Shingles vaccine news

Shingrix is the preferred vaccine, over Zostavax which is a live zoster vaccine, a shingles vaccine in use since 2006. 

Zostavax may still be used to prevent shingles in healthy adults 60 years and older, says the CDC.

For example, you could use Zostavax if a person is allergic to Shingrix, prefers Zostavax, or requests immediate vaccination and Shingrix is unavailable.