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Shingles vaccination programme launched for people aged 70


Public Health Agency

Type: News
Region: Republic of Ireland
Northern Ireland

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is launching a new routine shingles vaccination programme, available from 1 October, for all people aged 70 and a catch-up programme for people aged 79 years old to help protect against the common and painful skin disease.Dr Maureen McCartney, Consultant in Health Protection at the PHA, said: "Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. After you recover from chicken pox, some of the virus remains inactive in the body and nervous system. It can then reactivate later in life when your immune system is weakened. About a quarter of adults will get shingles at some point in their life."For most people shingles can be a mild infection with good recovery. But it can be very painful and uncomfortable and tends to affect people more commonly as they get older. The older people are, the worse it can be, with some people left with pain lasting for years after the initial rash has healed."It is estimated that the vaccination programme will prevent nearly 40% of the hundreds of cases seen every year in Northern Ireland in people over 70 and reduce the severity of the symptoms for those who do develop the condition."Who gets the vaccineEligibility for the vaccine is determined by a person's age on 1 September. The vaccine will be offered routinely to people aged 70 years on the 1 September. (This year that will be those born between 2 September 1942 and 1 September 1943, inclusive) and as part of a catch-up programme those aged 79 years on the 1 September 2013 (i.e born between 2 September 1933 and 1 September 1934, inclusive).The shingles vaccine is given as a single injection in the upper arm and unlike the flu vaccine, you only need to have it once.Dr McCartney continued: "Side effects are usually quite mild and don't last very long. The most common side effects include headache, and or pain and swelling, at the site of the injection. The shingles vaccine has been used extensively in several countries including America and Canada.  We can therefore be very confident in knowing that it is a safe and effective vaccine."If you are eligible you will receive the vaccination at your local GP surgery over the next few months."People who have lowered immunity must not receive the shingles vaccine, such as anyone who is on chemotherapy or has leukaemia or lymphoma.  Other medicines can also lower immunity, for example, high doses of oral steroids and some drugs used for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, polymyositis, sarcoidosis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Check with your GP if you are on any treatment especially if it is prescribed to you at a hospital.People under 70 years of age will get the vaccine in the year following their seventieth birthday. People aged 80 and over will not get the shingles vaccination because the vaccine effectiveness diminishes with age and is not recommended for people aged 80 years or older.It is estimated that in Northern Ireland around 21,000 people will be eligible for the vaccine in the first year.For further information see





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Suggested citation:

Public Health Agency. (2013) Shingles vaccination programme launched for people aged 70 [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 24th August 2019].


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