• The varicella-zoster virus is a herpes virus which causes a febrile disease with a vesicular rash during childhood. The virus persists in the human body for life (latent infection) and upon reactivation later in life may cause shingles, with increasing frequency at older ages.
  • A live attenuated vaccine against varicella - later also indicated to prevent zoster - was developed in 1974 by Takahashi and colleagues and licensed for universal immunization of healthy children in the United States in 1995 as well is in European countries.
  • It has proven extremely safe and side effects are unusual, mild, and less serious than complications of varicella. 85% of children are completely protected after 1 dose. For optimal effect, 2 doses are required. Childhood zoster was reduced by 78%.
  • It was demonstrated in 2005 that zoster can also be safely prevented in 50% of vaccinees over age 60 years using a vaccine dose 15 times higher than that used for prevention of varicella in children.
  • A new, adjuvanted subunit zoster vaccine was licensed in 2017 by the American FDA and in  2018 by EMA in Europe based on an efficacy of about 95% and an excellent safety profile.