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Kaiser Permanente Study Challenges Concerns on Effectiveness of Administering Pneumococcal & Shingles Vaccines Together
Date:5/11/2011

ferent times (nonconcurrently).  There were 114 herpes zoster cases identified in the study: 56 cases in the concurrent group, and 58 cases in the nonconcurrent vaccination group. The study found no statistically significant difference in incidence of shingles between the two groups.  

Dr. Tseng adds, "Ideally, when a new vaccine is introduced to the public, one should consider giving it at the same time as other vaccines to increase coverage levels and minimize administration costs, if there are no immune response issues or safety concerns."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria, including those most likely to cause serious disease. Pneumococcal disease can result in long-term problems such as like brain damage, hearing loss and limb loss, and in some cases can be fatal. Most healthy adults who get the vaccine develop protection to most or all of these types within two to three weeks of getting the shot.

The risk of developing shingles during a lifetime is about 30 percent, and there are more than 1 million episodes of shingles every year in the United States. Shingles is a painful condition that can last months or years and can seriously impact quality of life.  Less than 7 percent of the eligible U.S. population was vaccinated for herpes zoster by the end of 2008.  

The CDC continues to recommend that the zoster vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine be administered at the same visit if the person is eligible for both vaccines.

The FDA approved the package label change in 2009 based on a research study by Merck that found antibody levels to the herpes zoster virus were lowered if the vaccine was administered concomitantly with pneumonia vaccine. However that study used the antibody level as the marker of protection, but it is the cell-mediated immunity against the herpes virus, instead of the antibody le
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