Introduction Herpes zoster (HZ) is a painful disease affecting mostly seniors. The goal of this study is to estimate the long-term cumulative risk of HZ in a general population 60 years and older.
Methods We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 227 277 randomly selected immunocompetent subjects from Kaiser Permanente Southern California members who were never vaccinated with a zoster vaccine, and followed them from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2009. We estimated the age-specific incidence rates, and used density method to derive the long-term cumulative risk of HZ, assuming the incidence rate is stable over time and no cohort effect.
Results The 10-, 20-, and 30-year risks of HZ are 0.10 (95% CI 0.09 to −0.11), 0.21 (95% CI 0.19 to 0.24), and 0.34 (95% CI 0.30 to 0.38) for White men, and 0.14 (95% CI 0.13 to 0.16), 0.30 (95% CI 0.27 to 0.32), and 0.42 (95% CI 0.39 to 0.46) for White women, respectively. For Black men, the 10-, 20-, and 30-year risks are 0.08 (95% CI 0.06 to 0.10), 0.17 (95% CI 0.12 to 0.22), and 0.23 (95% CI 0.15 to 0.33), and for Black women, they are 0.09 (95% CI 0.07 to 0.12), 0.20 (95% CI 0.16 to 0.25), and 0.30 (95% CI 0.23 to 0.38).
Conclusions As the ever-increasing number of baby boomers is entering the retirement years, the number of elderly population is expected to increase. We estimated that the long term risk of HZ among people over age of 60 years is higher than previously expected. It may be prudent to suggest prevention measures such as vaccination to reduce the risk of HZ in this population.
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