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Herpes zoster vaccine is safe and effective for older adults

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 15 September 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:0-e

Question Can a vaccine prevent herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia?

Synopsis Patients with herpes zoster (shingles) feel miserable, and postherpetic neuralgia—which complicates about 10% of cases—makes them feel even worse. This study identified people over 60 (47% were over 70) who had either a history of varicella or were presumed to have one because they had lived in the United States for at least 30 years. A total of 59% were men, 95% were white, and they had a generally good baseline health status. Patients were randomised (allocation concealed) to either 0.5 ml of live attenuated Oka/Merck varicella-zoster virus vaccine (n = 19 270) or placebo (n = 19 276). The …

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