Shingles vaccine programme launched

The Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England have introduced a new vaccination programme from September 1st to protect adults aged 70 years against herpes zoster, following a review of the available evidence by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Zostavax is not recommended for patients over 80 years as its efficacy declines with age | SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Zostavax is not recommended for patients over 80 years as its efficacy declines with age | SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Eligible individuals should receive a single dose of the varicella zoster vaccine Zostavax by subcutaneous injection. This can be given at the same time as the seasonal influenza vaccine.

Contraindicated in certain patient groups

Zostavax should not be given to patients:

  • with a primary or acquired immunodeficiency state
  • receiving immunosuppressive therapy (including high-dose corticosteroids but not topical/inhaled corticosteroids or low-dose systemic corticosteroids or in patients receiving corticosteroids as replacement therapy)
  • with active untreated TB 
  • who have had an anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine, or to neomycin or gelatin.

A catch up-immunisation programme has been launched for people aged 79 years.

Potential to prevent 40% of cases

It is estimated that 50,000 cases of shingles occur in people over 70 years annually in England and Wales, with approximately 1 in 1000 cases resulting in death. The vaccination programme is expected to prevent nearly 40% of cases in those over 70 years.

More information on the shingles vaccination programme

View Zostavax drug record

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