Safety and efficacy of recombinant and live herpes zoster vaccines for prevention in at-risk adults with chronic diseases and immunocompromising conditions

Keith M. Sullivan, Francis A. Farraye, Kevin L. Winthrop, David O. Willer, Peter Vink, Fernanda Tavares-Da-Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Compared with the general population, older adults with immune senescence and individuals who are immunocompromised (IC) due to disease or immunosuppressive therapy are at increased risk for herpes zoster (HZ) and its associated complications, which can be debilitating and life-threatening. Vaccination can be an effective strategy against HZ and studies have shown that HZ vaccination in IC individuals can elicit immune responses and provide protection from infection. Recently, the first approvals have been granted in the United States and the European Union for the recombinant HZ vaccine (RZV) in adults ≥ 18 years of age at risk of HZ due to immunodeficiency or immunosuppression. Existing systematic reviews have highlighted the risks for HZ in limited immunocompromising conditions and have only examined clinical data for RZV. This review details the risks and burden of HZ in a broad range of clinically relevant IC populations and summarizes key efficacy and safety data for RZV and live HZ vaccine in these individuals. Research has shown IC individuals can benefit from HZ vaccination; however, these insights have yet to be fully incorporated into vaccination guidelines and clinical care. Clinicians should consider HZ vaccination in eligible at-risk populations to protect against HZ and its associated complications and thereby, reduce the burden that HZ poses on the healthcare system. Electronic health records and linked personal health records could be used to identify and contact patients eligible for HZ vaccination and provide clinical decision support-generated alerts for missing or delayed vaccinations. This review will help clinicians identify eligible IC individuals who may benefit from HZ vaccination. A video abstract linked to this article is available on Figshare

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-48
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 4 2023


  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplant
  • Herpes zoster
  • Immunocompromised
  • Vaccination
  • Varicella zoster virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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