New vaccine to protect older people
People aged 70 will now be offered a single vaccination to help protect against shingles.
Throughout 2013/14, all 79 year olds will also be offered the vaccine as part of a catch up programme.
The introduction of the shingles vaccine follows a recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
Those eligible will be invited for their immunisation by their GP practice. While people can have this vaccine at any time of the year, for many people it will be offered at the same time as the seasonal flu vaccine.
Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said:
“Shingles is a debilitating condition that is more likely to affect people, and to be more severe, as they grow older. For older people, shingles can be a significant cause of illness and pain, with many people developing a very painful and long lasting condition, Post Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN), which is why we are offering a new vaccination programme.
“The new vaccine could prevent many people from getting shingles and reduce the number of people that are hospitalised each year. With shingles, once you’ve had it, there is a chance that you could get it again, this vaccine will also reduce the risk of this happening.
“Our Scottish Immunisation Programme is continuing to bring great benefits to the health of the older population. With around 7,000 cases of shingles occurring in people aged 70 each year in Scotland, it’s hugely important that people take up the invitation to get their vaccine and protect themselves against shingles.”
The introduction of the shingles vaccine to the current schedule is part of a wider programme of changes to the routine immunisation programme in Scotland. These include:
- Changes to administering the Men C vaccine (from June 2013)
- The introduction of a rotavirus immunisation to all babies in Scotland born on or after May 1, 2013
- The extension of the seasonal flu programme - from 1 October 2013 the programme will be extended to all two and three year old children, with pilots which will include some primary school aged children this season, involving a combination of single primary school year cohorts in some NHS Board areas and a proportion of whole primary schools in other health Board areas.
Shingles is caused by a virus called varicella zoster, the same virus that causes chickenpox. When people recover from chickenpox, most of the virus is destroyed, but some survives and lies inactive in the nervous system. It can then reactivate later in life when the immune system is weakened by increasing age, stress or treatments that reduce immunity.
Like all licensed vaccines, the shingle vaccine has been thoroughly tested and meets UK and European safety and licensing requirements. It has been used extensively in several countries including the USA and Canada.
Please visit www.immunisationscotland.org.uk for further information on the symptoms of shingles and the vaccination.