A vaccine for the prevention of shingles is available. If you are 70 to 79 years old, you are eligible. The vaccine (known as Zostavax®▼) is provided from your regular GP, pharmacists or private healthcare providers. We encourage anyone who is offered this vaccine to take it up.
For the few people in this age group who have certain immune conditions, there is a different vaccine called Shingrix®▼, that your GP can prescribe.
These vaccines will boost the antibodies already in your body which were created when you first had chickenpox. This means the vaccine for shingles is relatively side-effect free. Rarely, people report headache or soreness at the site of the injection.
The shingles vaccination programme is available to anyone in the 70-79 age range. (Once you are 80 you no longer qualify for the free NHS vaccine.)
Shingles is a reactivation of chickenpox that causes pain and a rash along a band of skin over the affected nerve. The infection is caused by the herpes varicella-zoster virus, which is the medical name for chickenpox. Following chickenpox infection, the virus lies dormant in the nervous tissue. But it may reappear following reactivation, and we call it shingles. The programme began in September 2013 and it is estimated that around 800,000 people in the UK will be eligible for the vaccine each year.
If you consider yourself to be at special risk, and you are outside the ages specified, you could talk to your GP about your particular situation.