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Shingles vaccine comes a step nearer

By Lilian Anekwe

A study prepared for a Government advisory committee finds the introduction of a vaccination programme against shingles in older people is likely to be cost-effective.

Researchers found a vaccination programme against herpes zoster for over-65s would cost around £20,400 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY), well within the Department of Health's £30,000 per QALY threshold.

The Health Protection Agency estimated that a vaccination programme would cost an estimated £23.7m a year, but would result in savings to the NHS of around £17.3m over the life-span of the cohort.

The GP-related costs incurred treating the 70,000 over 65 year old diagnosed with shingles in the over 65s is estimated at £11.5m every year.

The Government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has already convened a subgroup to examine the evidence for vaccinating against the herpes zoster virus, and commissioned the HPA to compile the research.

The committee is currently considering a range of options, including an antenatal screening and vaccination programme against varicella in pregnant women, adding a chickenpox vaccine to the current childhood immunisation schedule, or introducing a programme to prevent the over 65s from shingles.

Study leader Dr Albert Jan van Hoek, an infectious disease modeller in the HPA's modelling and economics unit, told Pulse: ‘For shingles it looks like there's a reasonable QALY loss, caused by the pain the illness causes.

‘When combining this with efficacy data, there are certainly circumstances when a vaccination programme would be cost effective.'

The study assumed a level of efficacy of 73.5% and a duration of protection of 7.5 years. It is published online in the journal Vaccine and will be presented at the JCVI sub-committee's next meeting in March.

Modelling data shows shingles vaccination would be cost effective Modelling data shows shingles vaccination would be cost effective

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