Hospitalization burden related to herpes zoster infection during the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain (2020-2021)

Victor Manuel Irigoyen-Mansilla, Ruth Gil-Prieto, Enrique Gea-Izquierdo, José Luis Barrio–Fernández, Valentín Hernández-Barrera, Angel Gil-de-Miguel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV) belongs to the family Herpesviridae. Herpes zoster (HZ) is caused by reactivation of latent VZV. It is associated with risk factors such as immunosenescence, immunosuppressive pathologies and pharmacological treatments. Patients with these risk factors are more likely to be hospitalized. Increases in HZ hospitalizations have been reported in many countries in recent years. The objective of this study is to estimate hospitalization rates, mortality rates and costs due to HZ during the worst years of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain (2020–2021). This is a descriptive study based on an analysis of information from the Minimum Basic Dataset and coded according to the Spanish version of the 10th International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10-CM). Hospitalization, mortality and case-fatality rates, and median length of hospitalization were calculated. The hospitalization rate was 14.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and the mortality rate was 1.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Both increased considerably with age. In this time period, 92.3% of the registered cases were people over 50 years of age. Nevertheless, during the COVID-19 pandemic period, hospitalization rate decreased and the mortality rate increased from previous years. HZ hospitalization and mortality rates are relevant issues in the public health of older people. It is highly recommended to evaluate new vaccination strategies against VZV to include the HZ vaccine for health care for elderly people, as well as to reduce the disease burden and associated risk factors. The estimation of HZ disease hospitalization costs were €100,433,904.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2256047
JournalHuman Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • COVID-19
  • Herpes zoster
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Spain
  • epidemiology
  • hospitalizations
  • mortality
  • vaccination
  • varicella-zoster virus


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