Home Latest news Changes to who is eligible for the shingles vaccine
NHS Graphic with photos of older people and the words: There’s a vaccine to help protect you from the pain of shingles

Changes to who is eligible for the shingles vaccine

by Laura Johnston

Almost a million more people (900,000) will become eligible for a shingles vaccination from September 2023, the NHS has announced.

Anyone over 50 who has a weakened immune system (for example due to cancer treatment) will be able to get the shingles vaccine from 1 September 2023.

Also, those turning 65 and 70 will be able to get the vaccine after their birthday, in addition to those already aged 70-80 who are currently eligible.

Patients will be contacted by their GP practice when they become eligible.

What is shingles?

Shingles can occur at any age, but the risk and severity of shingles and its complications increase with age and is higher in individuals who have a severely weakened immune system.

Shingles cannot be caught from other people. Instead, it develops in people who have previously been infected with chickenpox over their lifetime. Chickenpox can appear quite mildly in people so many will be unaware if they have been infected in the past, but studies show that nearly every adult has had the virus.

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.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency, said:

“Shingles is an extremely painful condition and complications can be long-lasting. Older people and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable. A newly available vaccine, Shingrix, is being offered on the NHS from September to those aged 65 and 70 years, and to those with severely weakened immune systems from 50 years of age.

 

“Two doses of vaccine are highly effective in reducing your risk of getting shingles, or if you do develop shingles, reduce the severity of your symptoms. I strongly urge all those eligible to protect themselves by taking up the offer of a vaccine when they are contacted by their GP.”

Cllr Bannon, Knowsley Council Cabinet Member for Health, added:

“Around one in four people will go on to develop Shingles in their lifetime and the risk of this increases with age. It can be a very debilitating disease and therefore it is vital that anyone eligible, even if you think you may not be at risk, gets the vaccine.”

The change comes on the back of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommending that the Shingrix vaccine should be extended to a wider cohort of people, after trials showed the vaccine was highly effective and safe for these groups.

The vaccine that is used in the programme is also changing. All newly eligible individuals will be offered two doses of the non-live vaccine Shingrix instead of the live vaccine Zostavax.