Herpes zoster vaccine live: A 10 year review of post-marketing safety experience

English D. Willis, Meredith Woodward, Elizabeth Brown, Zoran Popmihajlov, Patricia Saddier, Paula W. Annunziato, Neal A. Halsey, Anne A. Gershon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background Zoster vaccine is a single dose live, attenuated vaccine (ZVL) indicated for individuals ≥50 years-old for the prevention of herpes zoster (HZ). Safety data from clinical trials and post-licensure studies provided reassurance that ZVL is generally safe and well tolerated. The objective of this review was to provide worldwide post-marketing safety information following 10 years of use and >34 million doses distributed. Methods All post-marketing adverse experience (AE) reports received worldwide between 02-May-2006 and 01-May-2016 from healthcare professionals following vaccination with ZVL and submitted to the MSD AE global safety database, were analyzed. Results A total of 23,556 AE reports, 93% non-serious, were reported. Local injection site reactions (ISRs), with a median time-to-onset of 2 days, were the most frequently reported AEs followed by HZ. The majority of HZ reports were reported within 2 weeks of vaccination and considered, based on time-to-onset, pathogenesis of HZ, and data from clinical trials, to be caused by wild-type varicella-zoster virus (VZV). HZ confirmed by PCR analysis to be VZV Oka/Merck vaccine-strain was identified in an immunocompetent individual 8 months postvaccination and in 4 immunocompromised individuals. Disseminated HZ was reported very rarely (<1%) with 38% occurring in immunocompromised individuals. All reports of disseminated HZ confirmed by PCR as VZV Oka/Merck vaccine-strain were in individuals with immunosuppressive conditions and/or therapy at the time of vaccination. Conclusions The safety profile of ZVL, following 10 years of post-marketing use, was favorable and consistent with that observed in clinical trials and post-licensure studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7231-7239
Number of pages9
Issue number52
StatePublished - Dec 19 2017


  • Herpes zoster
  • Post-marketing
  • Safety
  • Shingles vaccine live
  • Zoster vaccine live

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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