A cost-effectiveness study supports the decision of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) not to recommend the herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine to patients aged 50 years. According to the study being published in Annals of Internal Medicine, the vaccine does not seem to be a good value for patients in this age group.
Shingles affects approximately one million Americans every year, many of whom develop postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). Currently, the shingles vaccine is licensed for persons aged 50 years or older but is recommended only for patients 60 years or older. Researchers used a computer model to assess the cost-effectiveness of the shingles vaccine for adults aged 50 years with healthy immune systems. They found that while the vaccine is highly efficacious at that age, the incidence of both herpes zoster and PHN is low. The vaccine would be ineffective in 10 years, which is the age at which vaccination is currently recommended and at which shingles incidence increases rapidly. At current costs, the shingles vaccine is too expensive to be considered a good value for younger patients.