What is the prevalence of herpes zoster (shingles) in the US?

Updated: Feb 11, 2021
  • Author: Camila K Janniger, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Before the advent of widespread vaccination, an estimated 4 million cases of primary VZV infection occurred annually in the United States alone. [41] Infection was nearly universal by the end of the teenage years, with studies showing only 10% of persons older than age 15 years as remaining susceptible to infection. [42]

Over the period of a lifetime, 10-20% of those with primary infections went on to experience episodes of herpes zoster. [43] High-risk groups, such as elderly populations and immunocompromised people, might experience cumulative incidences as high as 50%. [44] The estimated annual number of cases in the United States is approximately 1 million. [18]

Since the introduction of widespread vaccination for varicella in 1995, the incidence of primary VZV infection in the United States has been reduced by up to 90%. [41] However, the effect of this vaccination, as well as that of the subsequently approved vaccination for herpes zoster, on the current and future incidence of herpes zoster remains to be determined.

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