While herpes zoster (HZ) itself has a significant and negative impact on quality of life (QoL) in older adults, the recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV) appears to have little effect on patient function while providing substantial protection against HZ.

That’s according to a study in the Journal of Gerontology, which found that RZV is efficacious in adults aged 50 years and older and is associated with increased reactogenicity compared with placebo. 

An article by Duke University Medical Center–led researchers reports on the impact of reactogenicity of the second RZV dose on the QoL and physical functioning (PF) of vaccine recipients.

In the single-arm study, 391 of 401 older adults received two RZV doses administered 2 months apart. Researchers evaluated changes in mean Short Form Survey-36 (SF-36) PF and EuroQol-5 Dimension scores, reactogenicity, safety, productivity loss, and healthcare resource utilization.

In participants receiving both doses, the most common solicited local symptoms after the second dose were injection-site pain (75.1%), erythema (22.4%), and swelling (13.9%). The most common systemic symptoms were fatigue (46.3%), headache (37.5%), and myalgia (32.9%).

A small proportion (15.5%) of participants reported Grade 3 solicited (local and systemic) adverse events. Those events were associated with a transient clinically significant decrease in SF-36 PF score on Days 1 to 2 postdose that recovered by Day 3.

“Overall, no clinically important reduction in mean SF-36 PF scores was observed from baseline to post-dose 2 (mean change -0.4), and no quality-adjusted-life-year loss was recorded,” the researchers note.

The study team concludes, “Overall, QoL and PF of RZV vaccinees were not affected by vaccine-related reactogenicity. A transient reduction was observed in the first 2 days after RZV vaccination in individuals with Grade 3 adverse events. No safety concerns were identified.”

Results of the study suggest that the benefits of preventing HZ, as well as acute episode-associated pain and postherpetic neuralgia, with vaccination “outweigh the minimal and transient loss in PF and QoL caused by vaccine-related reactogenicity,” the researchers emphasize.

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