The recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV) provides substantial health benefits compared with the small risk of GBS, according to a new study.

The report in Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics points out that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends RZV to prevent herpes zoster (HZ) and related complications in immunocompetent adults aged 50 years and older, as well as immunocompromised adults aged 19 years and older.

In 2019, according to the article, a statistical safety signal was identified using data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink. Based on additional analyses using Medicare data, the FDA, the CDC, and collaborators performed additional to investigate the potential risk of GBS following RZV.

"Concurrently, epidemiologic data suggested a potentially elevated risk of GBS following HZ in U.S. adults," the researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School and colleagues wrote. "Using data from these sources and a published simulation model, this study evaluated the health benefits and risks associated with vaccinating immunocompetent adults >50 y with RZV compared to no vaccination."

The authors advised that, in the base case analysis, RZV vaccination averted 43,000 to 63,000 cases of HZ, including GBS complications, per million vaccinated per 10-year age cohort. That is in comparison to three to six additional cases of GBS projected following RZV per million vaccinated in the same population, they added.

Past research has found that the risk for GBS is significantly increased among people who have experienced a recent HZ attack, compared with the risk of a matching population.

"This analysis highlights the projected health benefits of RZV vaccination compared to the relatively low potential risk of GBS following RZV," the researchers noted.

The authors urged future studies on estimates of GBS risk following RZV or an episode of HZ, adding, "Any empirical work in this area can then be paired with additional modeling work to continually evaluate the tradeoffs between the risks and benefits of vaccination."

The study recounts how, in February 2021, after reviewing this analysis and other safety assessments, "ACIP concluded that the benefit-risk balance remained favorable and continued to recommend RZV for immunocompetent adults 50 y and older."

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