Silverbirch Medical Practice, Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland

Shingles vaccination

During the 2016/17 programme the shingles vaccine will be offered to everyone who is 70 years of age on the 1st September 2016 (routine cohort) and everyone who is 78 years of age on the 1st September 2016 (catch-up cohort). See table below for dates of birth.

Year Cohort Cohort Definition Born from date Born to date
2016/17 Routine Age 70 on 1 September 2016 02/09/1945 01/09/1946
2016/17 Catch-up Age 78 on 1 Septmeber 2016 02/09/1937 01/09/1938

Those individuals now aged 71, 72, 73 or 79 years of age, who had been eligible during the first two years of the programme (i.e were born between 02/09/1942 - 01/09/1945 or 02/09/36 - 01/09/37) and who have not already received the vaccine remain eligible to receive the vaccine during 2016/17.

Those people now aged 80 years of age, who had been eligible during 2015/16 (i.e were born between 02/09/1935 - 01/09/1936) are NOT eligible to receive the vaccine during 2016/17.

What is shingles?

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it. It's caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. It's estimated around one in every four people will have at least one episode of shingles during their life.

Symptoms of shingles

The main symptom of shingles is pain, followed by a rash that develops into itchy blisters, similar in appearance to chickenpox. 

New blisters may appear for up to a week, but a few days after appearing they become yellowish in colour, flatten and dry out. Scabs then form where the blisters were, which may leave some slight scarring and loss of skin pigment.

The pain may be a constant, dull or burning sensation, and its intensity can vary from mild to severe. You may have sharp stabbing pains from time to time, and the affected area of skin will usually be tender.

Complications of shingles

Shingles can sometimes lead to complications, such as postherpetic neuralgia. This is where severe nerve pain lasts for several months or more after the rash has gone. Complications like this are usually in elderly people who have had the condition and those with a weakened immune system.

The shingles vaccine

It's not always possible to prevent shingles, but a vaccine called Zostavax can reduce your chances of developing the condition. If you still develop shingles after having this vaccine, it may be milder and last for a shorter time than usual.

This vaccine is now routinely offered on the NHS as a single injection.

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