Shingles is a painful viral infection. It cannot be caught from other people. Instead, it develops in people who have previously been infected with chickenpox over their lifetime.
At least nine in 10 adults are already infected with the virus that causes shingles, having had chickenpox as children, and around one in four people will go on to develop shingles in their lifetime – the risk of this increases with age.
Some cases can result in serious symptoms such as blindness, hearing loss, nerve pain and potentially death, however the vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of people developing shingles and experiencing nasty symptoms.
Until now the shingles vaccine has only be available to those over 70. From 1 September 2023:
- Anyone who is severely immunosuppressed and over 50 will be able to get two doses of the Shingrix vaccine. The official ‘Green Book’ on vaccines (page 7) states that this group includes those on biologic therapies such as anti TNF, anti IL-17A and JAK inhibitors. It also refers to high dose corticosteroids and specific doses of methotrexate,
- Those turning 65 and 70 will also be able to get the vaccine after their birthday. Patients will be contacted by their GP practice when they become eligible.
National Director of Vaccinations and Screening at NHS England, Steve Russell, said:
‘While the country has been focused on the NHS’s successful Covid and flu vaccine programmes, there remain other preventable illnesses like Shingles which can be fatal to those most at risk.
With a quarter of people getting Shingles in their lifetime, and with it being one of the few conditions that cannot achieve herd immunity, the expansion of the programme will provide peace of mind to hundreds of thousands and save lives.
So please do not put off getting the jab if you are eligible, there are many chances to get the vaccine and those eligible could also be given many opportunities to quickly get your jab during routine visits to GP practices’.