Have your Shingles vaccine this year
- How do I get a Shingles vaccination?
- Why should I have my Shingles vaccination this year?
- What is Shingles?
- How do you catch Shingles?
- More information and useful links
If you are aged 70 to 79, you can have the shingles vaccination at any time of year, though many people will find it convenient to have it at the same time as their annual flu vaccination.
Your doctor will invite you to the surgery for the vaccine when you become eligible, and you should consider taking up the opportunity to be vaccinated if you are eligible.
The shingles vaccination is not routinely provided to anyone aged over 80 by the NHS because it becomes less effective in this age group.
If you are aged 70 to 79, you are eligible for a shingles vaccination. Once vaccinated against shingles you are protected against the illness for at least 5 years, so you don't have to have the vaccination every year.
The shingles vaccination significantly reduces the nerve pain that occurs during the infection. It also significantly reduces the chance of developing the lasting, chronic pain (post herpetic neuralgia) that occurs at the site of a previous attack of shingles, in about 1 in 5 people who have had it.
Shingles is rarely life threatening, but complications can occur as a result of shingles that mean around 1 in every 1,000 cases in adults over the age of 70 is fatal. By the end of August 2017, just over half of all eligible patients in Wiltshire had been vaccinated against shingles (about 51%).
The NHS encourages people over 70 to stay healthy and avoid becoming ill during the winter months.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox – the varicella zoster virus. When you recover from chickenpox most of the virus is destroyed but some survives and lies inactive in the nervous system. This can then reactivate later in life when your immune system is weakened by increasing age, stress or conditions/treatments that reduce your immunity.
Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the area of skin that it serves, resulting in clusters of painful, itchy, fluid-filled blisters. These blisters can burst and turn into sores that eventually crust over and heal.
These blisters usually affect an area on one side of the body, most commonly the chest but sometimes also the head, face and eye.
Shingles can be very painful and tends to affect people more commonly as they get older. The older you are, the worse it can be.
You don’t catch shingles.
Chickenpox virus picked up earlier in your life reactivates later to cause shingles. You can’t catch shingles from someone who has chickenpox. However, if you have shingles blisters, the virus in the fluid can infect someone who has not had chickenpox and they may develop chickenpox.
Reviewed 22nd February 2018; Updated 22nd February 2018