Podcast | Practice of Medicine | April 25, 2022

A Discussion About the Safety of Recombinant Zoster Vaccine in Rheumatology Patients

Herpes zoster is a public health concern for the public, especially in subjects who are immunocompromised. The CDC–recommended recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV) is an effective way to reduce the incidence of herpes zoster, but because of the increased immunogenicity of the vaccine adjuvant, there is a concern about flares of underlying autoimmune diseases in rheumatology patients. Join Drs. Syed Raza Saurav Acharya, and Gabrielle Howard, as they discuss the safety of RZV in this patient population, a topic they, and their coauthor Debendra Pattanaik, addressed in their February 2022 Southern Medical Journal article. In this podcast, they talk about why patients with rheumatic diseases are found to be at higher risk of herpes zoster and what led them to conduct their study. Additionally, they provide evidence of the safety of  RZV in subjects with rheumatologic diseases.

References and Resources:

  1. Raza S, Acharya S, Howard G, Pattanaik D. Safety of recombinant zoster vaccine in rheumatology patients. South Med J 2022;115:125-128. 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shingles (herpes zoster). Vaccination. https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/vaccination.html. Published 2019. Accessed December 7, 2021.
  3. McKay SL, Guo A, Pergam SA, et al. Herpes zoster risk in immunocompromised adults in the United States: a systematic review.Clin Infect Dis 2020;71:e125–e134.
  4. Furer V, Rondaan C, Heijstek MW, et al. 2019 update of EULAR recommendations for vaccination in adult patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Ann Rheum Dis 2020;79:39–52.
  5. Food and Drug Administration. Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. Briefing Document for HZ/ su (Zoster Vaccine Recombinant, Adjuvanted). Advisory Committee Meeting, 2017. https:// www.fda.gov/media/107553/download

Syed Raza, MD
Dr. Syed Raza currently serves as associate professor of internal medicine in the division of connective tissue diseases at University of Tennessee, Memphis. Born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, he moved to the United States in 2005 for his internal medicine residency and then went on to complete his fellowship in rheumatology at UT Memphis. After completing his fellowship, Dr. Raza was in private practice in Michigan and eventually joined the UT faculty in 2015 where he remains. He loves teaching residents and students, and in his free time he enjoys reading and long distance running.

Saurav Acharya, MD
Dr. Saurav Acharya attended medical school in Manipal Medical College Nepal and did his residency at Jersey City Medical Center. He trained as a rheumatologist at the University of Tennessee, Memphis and currently works at University Health Truman Medical Center in Kansas City. 

Gabrielle Howard, MD
Dr. Gabrielle Howard was born and raised in Memphis, TN, and she chose to stay in her hometown for medical school, residency, and fellowship. She is currently a first-year fellow in rheumatology at UTHSC and lives downtown with her husband Jeremy and their golden retriever mix Bucky. For fun, Dr. Howard enjoys trying new restaurants and traveling. She considers rheumatology the best field because it is never straightforward and always challenging in a positive way.