Herpetic eye disease is the number one cause of infectious vision loss in the United States—making herpes zoster (HZ) vaccination an important preventative step.1 However, a new survey shows HZ vaccination isn’t always a priority for primary care physicians.

The results of a recent online survey conducted at the New York University Langone Health System reveals the knowledge, attitudes and practice patterns of primary care physicians regarding administration of the HZ vaccine—and it is less than favorable. The survey found HZ vaccination rates remain relatively low compared with those of influenza and pneumonia inoculation.

Of the internists surveyed across five different practice settings, 100 of 132 (76%) agreed that the HZ vaccine was an important clinical priority—but only 35% agreed strongly.2 In comparison, 93% and 94% of respondents felt the influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations, respectively, are clinical priorities, and 74% and 68% strongly agreed with that sentiment.

Survey takers estimated that 43% of their immunocompetent patients age 60 or older received the HZ vaccine, and only 11% of patients aged 50 to 59 received the HZ vaccine. A greater percentage of their patients have received influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, at 67% and 72%, respectively.

Almost all surveyed doctors (99%) consider the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations important in determining vaccination practices. The CDC released the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) 2018 Adult Immunization Schedule, effective February 2018, that includes a preference for the new recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV) over the available herpes zoster live vaccine (ZVL), especially for adults age 50 years or older.3

1. Farooq A, Sukla D. Herpes simplex epithelial and stromal keratitis: An epidemiologic update. Surv Ophthalmol. 2012;57:448-62.
2. Tsui E, Gillespie C, Perskin M, et al. Evaluating physician attitudes and practices regarding herpes zoster vaccination. Cornea. 2018 Aug;37(8):947-51.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedule for adults aged 19 years or older, United States, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/adult.html. Accessed July 10, 2018.