JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Burden of disease from shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia in the over 80 year olds in the UK.

BACKGROUND: The current UK vaccination programme for herpes zoster (HZ) excludes people aged ≥80 years. This study aimed to quantify the number of individuals ≥80 years who missed HZ vaccination and the consequent epidemiological and economic burden of HZ and post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).

METHODS: Immunocompetent individuals aged ≥80 years between 1st September 2013 and 31st December 2017 in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink were selected and linked to Hospital Episodes Statistics, where available. Rates of HZ and PHN and healthcare resource utilisation were investigated for the overall study population and by age group (80-84, 85-89, ≥90 years old) and the burden of HZ and PHN was projected to the UK population.

RESULTS: 4,858 HZ episodes and 464 PHN cases were identified in 255,165 individuals over 576,421 person-years (PY). Rates of HZ and PHN were 8.43 (95% confidence interval [CI] 8.19-8.66) and 0.80 (0.73-0.87) per 1,000 PY respectively and lowest in those aged ≥90 (HZ rate 7.37/1,000 PY; PHN rate 0.56/1,000 PY). Within HZ episodes, 10.27% of GP visits, 5.82% of prescribed medications and 21.65% of hospitalisations were related to HZ/PHN. Median length of hospitalisation increased from 7.0 days for all-cause to 10.5 days for HZ/PHN related hospitalisations. Individuals ≥90 stayed in hospital a median of 3-4 days longer than younger groups. Approximately 2.23 million individuals in the UK missed HZ vaccination since 2013 (1.86 million had never been eligible and 365,000 lost eligibility for HZ vaccination), resulting in an estimated 43,149 HZ episodes.

CONCLUSION: This study highlights the impact of the 80-year upper age limit policy on the health system. Our study estimates that 2.23 million individuals in the UK may have lost the opportunity to be vaccinated and that their burden of HZ and PHN remains high, especially among the very elderly.

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