Public Health England (PHE) has announced the groups eligible to receive the shingles vaccine from the start of September for the 2015 to 2016 vaccination programme.

From 1st September 2015, the shingles vaccine will be offered routinely to people aged 70 years, and the catch up will extend to those aged 78 years.

In addition, patients who were eligible for uimmunisation in the first 2 years of the programme but have not yet been vaccinated against shingles remain eligible until their 80th birthday.  These groups are:

  • people aged 71 and 72 on 1st September 2015
  • people aged 79

Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox), which is commonly caught in childhood.  After a person has had chickenpox, the virus can lie dormant in the nervous tissue but may reappear as shingles.  An episode of shingles typically lasts around two to four weeks.  The main symptoms are pain, followed by a rash.  It is possible to have shingles more than once.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations at PHE said:

We encourage people in the eligible age groups to contact their GP to get vaccinated.  Shingles is an important disease to prevent, particularly among older people.  We offer the shingles vaccine routinely to individuals at the age of 70 years to boost their immunity to prevent the development of shingles in later years and significantly reduce the incidence of psot herpetic neuralgia - persistent nerve pain that can occur at the site of a previous attack of shingles.

We're hoping to repeat the success of the 2014 to 2015 vaccination campaign.  By the end of April 2015, over half of all 70, 78 and 79 year-olds had been vaccinated against shingles.  This represents achievement and will result in a considerable reduction in the number of cases of this debilitating and painful condition.