Improving awareness of Zostavax recommendations for immunocompromised people

Zostavax was introduced on the National Immunisation Program in November 2016 for people aged 70 years, with a catch-up program for adults aged 71–79 years funded until October 2023.

However, Zostavax is contraindicated in severely immunocompromised people due to the risk of serious disseminated infection. There have been three Zostavax-related deaths in immunocompromised people between 2017 and 2020 in Australia.

A non-live recombinant subunit zoster vaccine, Shingrix, is now available in the private market and provides an alternative, especially for immunocompromised patients.

The ATAGI Statement on the Clinical Use of Zoster vaccines in Older Adults in Australia contains information to help GPs:

  • Determine whether Zostavax is appropriate, including a pre-vaccination screening questionnaire
  • Identify those patients who require specialist review prior to vaccination.

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care has published a number of Herpes zoster vaccine resources: