Shingles Vaccine Update




From September 2023 there have been further changes to the shingles vaccination programme.


What is Shingles?

Shingles (also known as herpes zoster) is caused by the dormant chickenpox virus spreading to an area of skin served by one of the nerves. It results in clusters of extremely painful and itchy, fluid-filled blisters. These blisters can burst and turn into sores that eventually crust over and heal. These blisters usually affect an area on one side of the body, most commonly the chest, but sometimes also the head, face and eye.

The first signs of shingles can be feeling generally unwell with a tingling or burning feeling in an area of skin on one side of the body. A painful rash with fluid-filled blisters usually appears a few days after the initial symptoms.

Shingles on the body can cause severe pain. If shingles develops in the eye and eyelid, it can lead to decreased vision or even permanent blindness in that eye.

Each year, about 14,000 people go on to develop a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) after shingles and over 1,400 are admitted to hospital because of PHN.

Most people recover fully after a few weeks, but for some, the pain goes on for several months or even years. PHN is a particularly unpleasant condition with severe burning, throbbing or stabbing nerve pain.

The older you are, the more likely you are to have long-lasting pain. The shingles vaccine reduces the risk of getting shingles and post herpetic neuralgia. If you are vaccinated and still develop Shingles, then the condition is usually milder.


Who is eligible for the Shingles vaccine?

From September the following patients will become eligible

  • healthy people aged 70 to 79 years who have not yet been vaccinated.
  • people aged 50 years and over with a severely weakened immune system.
  • healthy people aged 60 to 70 years will become eligible for the vaccine over the next 5 years, when they turn 65 or 70 years. This means if you are aged 66 to 69 you will be vaccinated when you turn 70

How do I get the Shingles vaccine?

The vaccine we are using requires two doses. These will normally be 6 months apart unless you have a weakened immune system when they will need to be done sooner at 8 weeks apart.

Currently we have a limited supply of vaccine as the program is being rolled out across the country. We are therefore prioritising those patients over 70 initially.

We will invite you in for vaccine as soon as we can and the vaccine becomes available.

Published: Oct 18, 2023