No increased risk of shingles from vaccine for those with autoimmune conditions

According to findings presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, the shingles vaccine does not increase the risk of shingles in patients taking biologics for inflammatory or autoimmune conditions.
The findings, based on data from more than 7,000 adults, suggest that the current recommendations that biologics users avoid live virus vaccines may be overly cautious, Jeffrey R. Curtis of the University of Alabama - Birmingham, said, Family Practice News reports. The shingles vaccine is currently recommended to protect older adults against herpes zoster, but concerns have been raised that reactivation of the live virus after vaccination for patients taking immunosuppressive medications might increase their risk of a shingles eruption.
There were no cases of shingles were reported within the first 42 days after vaccination among those taking biologics. Vaccination was associated with a decrease in herpes zoster incidence of approximately 30 percent. By contrast, the incidence rate of shingles in unvaccinated patients taking biologics was 16 per 1,000 person-years. The researchers found that the incidence of infection was not significantly different in vaccinated patients taking biologics than in vaccinated patients taking non-biologic DMARDs.
Curtis said that the study was limited by the lack of information about disease severity, but the findings support the safety and effectiveness of the shingles vaccine for biologics users.
"A controlled safety trial of the zoster vaccine in biologic users may be indicated to further demonstrate its safety and effectiveness in preventing zoster infection," Curtis said, according to Family Practice News.
The study was supported by the Quality and the National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research. Curtis has received research grants and consulting fees from Abbott, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Centocor, Genentech, Merck, Roche and UCB.

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