More people will become eligible for the shingles vaccination from September
The Public Health Agency (PHA) has announced plans to roll out the shingles vaccine to even more people from September 2023. This will give more older people and those with a weaker immune system protection against shingles which can be an extremely painful condition and complications can be long-lasting.
The vaccine is currently only available to those 70 and over but from 1 September 2023, anyone who is severely immunosuppressed and aged 50 and over will be able to get two doses of the Shingrix vaccine.
Those aged 65 and 70 on 1 September will also be able to get the vaccine, in addition to those already aged 71-79. Patients will be contacted by their GP practice when they become eligible.
The change comes on the back of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommending that the Shingrix vaccine should be extended to a wider cohort of people, after trials showed the vaccine was highly effective and safe for these groups.
Louise Flanagan, Consultant in Public Health at the PHA, said: “Shingles can occur at any age, but the risk and severity of shingles and its complications increase with age and is higher in individuals who have a severely weakened immune system.
“Shingles cannot be caught from other people. Instead, it develops in people who have previously been infected with chickenpox at any point in their lifetime. Shingles is spread by the virus “reawakening” in your body – it is typically reactivated in older age, or by certain medicines, illness or stress.
“The rash developed by the illness can be extremely painful and the pain can remain for many years after the rash has disappeared, however the vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of people developing shingles and experiencing nasty symptoms. It is therefore vital that anyone eligible, even if you think you may not be at risk, gets the vaccine.”
Two doses of vaccine are highly effective in reducing your risk of getting shingles, or if you do develop shingles, reduce the severity of your symptoms.
Who is eligible for the vaccine?
Your GP should contact you and invite you for vaccination if you are:
- aged 65 on 1 September 2023;
- aged 70 on 1 September 2023;
- aged 50 or over on 1 September 2023 and have a severely weakened immune system (sometimes known as ‘severely immunosuppressed’).
Like most vaccinations, the vaccine will be given as an injection in your upper arm. You will need two doses, usually at least six months apart. If you have a weakened immune system, then your second dose should be at least two months after your first dose. Speak to your GP or practice nurse for more information.
If you missed the shingles vaccine, you can still have it up to your 80th birthday. If you think you are eligible and have not yet received a vaccination, please contact your GP practice to ask about getting vaccinated. It’s important that you do not leave it too late to have the vaccination.
For further information see www.pha.site/shingles