The shingles vaccine is given as a single injection for people aged 60 or 85. Unlike the flu jab you’ll only need to have the vaccination once and you can have it at any time of the year.
The shingles vaccine is expected to reduce your risk of getting infected. If you are unlucky to go on to have the disease your symptoms may be lighter and the illness shorter.
Shingles can be very painful and uncomfortable. Many people are left with pain lasting for years after the initial rash has healed and shingles is very fatal for around 1 in 1,000 over-70s who develop it.
What Does the Shingles Vaccine Do?
The shingles vaccine, Zostavax, contains a weakened chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus). Vaccine helps stimulate your immune system to battle disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus.
What is shingles?
Shingles is also known as herpes zoster, very painful skin rash caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus) in people who have previously had chickenpox.
It begins with a burning sensation in the skin followed by a rash of very painful fluid-filled blisters that can then burst and turn into sores before healing. Usually an area on just one side of the body is affected, mostly on the chest but sometimes the head, eye and face.
Who can have the shingles vaccination?
Shingles vaccination is offered routinely as part of the NHS vaccination programme for people aged 60 or 85. You become eligible for the vaccine on the first day of September after you’ve turned 60 or 85 and remains so until the last day of August the following year.
You can have vaccination at any time of year, though many people will find it convenient to have the vaccine at the same time as their annual flu vaccination.
If you are aged between 61 and 84 on the 1st September 2014 you will become eligible for the shingles vaccine on the 1st September after your 84th birthday.