Older people urged to receive shingles vaccination

Public Health England sends reminder after a drop in vaccine coverage

Older people are being encouraged to get vaccinated against shingles. 

Public Health England (PHE) issued the advice following the publication of new figures that show only 37.8% of 70 year olds were vaccinated between September and November 2015 compared to 39.8% during the same period the previous year.

There was also a fall in the number of 78 year olds to get the vaccination in the same period – 38.2% down from 38.6% the previous year. 

Shingles is a painful infection caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox), which is common in childhood.

After contracting chickenpox, the virus can lie dormant in a person’s nervous tissue and may reappear as shingles. The condition lasts typically about two to four weeks, and the main symptoms are pain and a rash. It is possible to have shingles more than once.

From 1 September 2015, the shingles vaccine has been offered to people aged 70 on the 1 September 2015, as well as those aged 78 on that date.

People who were eligible for immunisation in the first two years of the programme but have not yet been vaccinated against shingles remain eligible until their 80th birthday. These are people aged 71, 72 or 79 on 1 September 2015.

Public Health England head of immunisation Mary Ramsay said: 'It’s worth taking the time and effort to visit your doctor to get the shingles vaccine as it protects you against a painful condition. You only need to be vaccinated once.

'Since the introduction of the shingles vaccine there has been a considerable reduction in the number of cases of this debilitating and painful condition.'


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