Background: Changes in herpes zoster (HZ) epidemiology are expected with childhood varicella vaccination. We reported previously that during 2000 to 2006 HZ incidence decreased 55% in children <10 years of age, while among 10- to 19-year olds it increased by 63%. We update the analysis with 4 additional years of data.
Methods: Population-based active surveillance was conducted for HZ in Antelope Valley, California. Structured telephone interviews and medical chart reviews collected data on demographics, varicella vaccinations, disease histories and clinical information. We calculated HZ incidence for 2007 to 2010 and assessed trends since 2000.
Results: Among children <10 years of age, HZ incidence continued the decreasing trend previously reported. During 2007 to 2010, the average incidence was 12.8 cases/100,000 children compared with 41.6 cases/100,000 children during 2000 to 2006, a 69% decline (P < 0.0001). For the 10- to 19-year olds, during 2007 to 2010 HZ incidence did not continue the increasing trend reported from 2000 to 2006; lower rates than in 2006 were observed in 3 of the 4 additional years evaluated. During 2007 to 2010 the average incidence was 78.2 cases/100,000 children compared with 68.0 cases/100,000 children during 2000 to 2006, a 13% increase (P = 0.123), with substantial fluctuation in annual rates throughout the 11 years of surveillance.
Conclusions: During the mature varicella vaccination program, declines in HZ incidence among children <10 years of age continued through 2010. Among the 10- to 19-year olds, the increase reported through 2006 did not continue further and lower rates than in 2006 were observed through 2010. Widespread use of varicella vaccine could reduce HZ incidence among vaccinated populations. Ongoing monitoring of HZ incidence is needed to detect and understand changes in HZ epidemiology in the varicella vaccine era.