New herpes zoster vaccine protects adults with two doses

The novelty on the market is a recombinant and inactivated vaccine that is 90% effective and is applied in two doses.

Herpes zoster is a late manifestation of the same virus that causes chickenpox, also known as chickenpox. Until a few years ago, when the chickenpox vaccine was not available, people had the disease and, after the infection was cured, kept the virus contained by the immune system. It happens that, over the years, especially after the age of 50, people who had chickenpox when they were small can suffer a reactivation of the virus and develop herpes zoster.

The novelty on the market is a recombinant and inactivated vaccine that is 90% effective and is administered in two doses. In addition to using the inactivated virus, the vaccine is called recombinant because the virus protein is produced in the laboratory in a cell line. The immunizer is indicated for people over 50 years of age and for those over 18 with an increased risk of developing herpes zoster.

The chickenpox virus, whose name is varicella zoster, is contained by the immune system from the time the person had the disease until the end of life. “Over the years and the aging of individuals, the reactivation of this virus can happen in about one in three people. This is because the immune system can no longer contain the replication of the virus and the person has lesions, often on the trunk, but also on the face. Zoster, as we call it, is pruritic, that is, it causes itching, irritation and can be painful for a period”, highlights Dr. Maria Isabel de Moraes Pinto, infectious disease specialist at Dasa Centro-Oeste, the largest integrated health network in Brazil that, in the region, brings together laboratories such as Exame Medicina Diagnóstica (DF), Atalaia Medicina Diagnóstica (GO), Bioclinic Laboratory (MS) and Cedic Cedilab Image and Laboratory (MT).

According to infectious disease specialist André Bon, from Hospital Brasilia, also belonging to Dasa, the main complication related to herpes zoster is post-herpetic neuralgia – a very intense pain that follows the path of the nerve that was affected by the reactivation of herpes zoster. “It starts during the zoster episode and continues even after the visible lesions heal. It can be disabling, with very intense pain and needs specific treatment with a pain modulator”, emphasizes the doctor.

Two different types of vaccines

To prevent the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, there are currently two immunizing agents: a live attenuated vaccine, which is indicated for people over 50 years of age, when the immune system begins to decrease its ability to contain the replication of the virus. This vaccine is 50% effective, that is, it reduces the chance of a person having zoster by half.

The second vaccine, recently presented to the Brazilian market and already available at Dasa, is recombinant and inactivated. “The safety of the recombinant vaccine has been extensively studied and the efficacy rate reaches 90%, which provides a benefit to the population”, says Dr. Maria Isabel.

According to the specialist, it is essential that doctors inform that there are two types of vaccine available: the first, with a single dose and 50% effectiveness; and another with a two-dose regimen, with greater efficacy. “Normally, there is no recommendation to repeat the vaccination schedule, that is, one dose if it is the live attenuated vaccine or two doses if it is the inactivated vaccine. In addition, the vaccine that is inactivated is also available for immunosuppressed people. In this case, the vaccine is recommended for people over 18 years of age, as immunosuppressed people may have zoster earlier”, explains the infectious disease specialist.


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Infectologist André Bon reinforces that for both inactivated and attenuated recombinant vaccines, the effectiveness decreases over time, however, the risk is greater the older the person is. “Patients who get the vaccine at age 50 can reach their 70s with a slightly lower rate of protection. So it is worth talking to the doctor to individually assess the best time to carry out the recombinant vaccine, if any”, he highlights. According to the specialist, this is the most indicated vaccine for its greater effectiveness, fewer adverse effects and, especially, greater effectiveness against zoster reactivation and post-herpetic neuralgia.

Dr. Maria Isabel also highlights that the prescribing doctor must describe which type of vaccine is indicated for the patient. “In any case, in our vaccination units, we have a team capable of clarifying doubts and explaining the difference between the two types of immunizing agent. But it is important for people to know that they are different vaccines, with different efficacy and with different vaccine schedules”, guides the doctor.

The live attenuated vaccine is indicated for people over 50 years of age. It is contraindicated for people who are immunosuppressed, as it is a live vaccine that needs an immune system capable of containing the replication of the virus. “The inactivated vaccine is available from the age of 18 for those who have immunosuppression conditions, which is good because these people have a greater chance of developing zoster”, explains Maria Isabel.

The recombinant and inactivated vaccine can already be found in Dasa units that offer the immunizers. It is worth mentioning that the doses are only administered with the presentation of the medical request.


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In the Midwest, the vaccine is available at Exame Medicina Diagnóstica, Atalaia Medicina Diagnóstica, Laboratório Bioclinico and Cedic Cedilab Imagem e Laboratório.

About Dasa

Dasa is the largest integrated health network in Brazil. It is part of the lives of more than 20 million people a year, with high technology, intuitive experience and an attitude ahead of time.

With more than 50,000 employees and 250,000 partner doctors, it exists to be the health that people want and that the world needs, being present at every stage of care.

He believes that to take care you always have to take care of yourself. Therefore, it looks at health management in a preventive, predictive and personalized way. It integrates diagnostic medicine, hospitals, genomics, oncology, care coordination, emergency care, telemedicine, clinical research and science. In all, it has 15 reference hospitals (considering its own network, inorganic growth and deals that are still under regulatory approval), and more than 59 brands between diagnostic medicine and hospitals, distributed in more than 900 units in Brazil.


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Dasa guarantees agile, uncomplicated and frictionless navigation in the healthcare journey, both for patients and doctors, through its digital health management platform, Nav. In addition, it offers integrated and innovative corporate health solutions through Dasa Empresas.