In December 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved VariZIG, a varicella zoster immune globulin preparation (Cangene Corporation, Winnipeg, Canada) for use in the United States for postexposure prophylaxis of varicella for persons at high risk for severe disease who lack evidence of immunity to varicella* and for whom varicella vaccine is contraindicated. Previously available under an investigational new drug (IND) expanded access protocol, VariZIG, a purified immune globulin preparation made from human plasma containing high levels of anti–varicella-zoster virus antibodies (immunoglobulin G), is the only varicella zoster immune globulin preparation currently available in the United States. VariZIG is now approved for administration as soon as possible following varicella-zoster virus exposure, ideally within 96 hours (4 days) for greatest effectiveness. CDC recommends administration of VariZIG as soon as possible after exposure to the varicella-zoster virus and within 10 days. CDC also has revised the patient groups recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to receive VariZIG by extending the period of eligibility for previously recommended premature infants from exposures to varicella-zoster virus during the neonatal period to exposures that occur during the entire period for which they require hospital care for their prematurity. The CDC recommendations for VariZIG use are now harmonized with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations. This report summarizes data on the timing of administration of varicella zoster immune globulin in relation to exposure to varicella-zoster virus and provides the CDC updated recommendations for use of VariZIG that replace the 2007 ACIP recommendations.
* Evidence of immunity to varicella includes 1) documentation of age-appropriate vaccination with varicella vaccine, 2) laboratory evidence of immunity or laboratory confirmation of disease, 3) birth in the United States before 1980 (except for health-care personnel, pregnant women, and immunocompromised persons), or 4) health-care provider diagnosis or verification of a history of varicella or herpes zoster. For immunocompromised children aged 12 months to 6 years, 2 doses of varicella vaccine are considered age-appropriate vaccination.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2013;62(28):574-576. © 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)