Eligible adults in the Black Country can now receive the shingles vaccine.
Shingles is an extremely painful condition which can develop after a chicken pox infection. It 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.
Some cases can result in serious symptoms such as blindness, hearing loss, nerve pain and potentially death, however the shingles vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of people developing shingles and experiencing nasty symptoms.
The shingles vaccine was previously offered to adults aged over 70. Following recommendation from the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), however, the vaccine started to be offered to anyone who is severely immunosuppressed and over 50 from 1 September.
Those turning 65 and 70 will also be eligible for the vaccine after their birthday. It means thousands more people in the Black Country will be able to get protected against shingles each year.
There are two vaccines that are used in the shingles vaccination programme. Which vaccine you will be given depends on your age and immune status, your GP will advise on this. Both provide effective protection against shingles and once your course is completed, you will not need any more shingles vaccines.
Dr Ananta Dave, Chief Medical Officer for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said: “Shingles is a virus that can occur at any age, but the risk and severity of shingles and its complications increase with age.
“It can’t be caught from other people, instead it develops in people who have previously been infected with chickenpox over their lifetime. The virus is typically reactivated in older age, or by certain medicines, illness or stress.
“Having the vaccination if you are eligible is really important. It can prevent you from getting shingles or reduce the severity of the symptoms if you do get it.
“From 1 September 2023, your GP practice has been inviting you for the shingles vaccination as you turn 65 or 70, or if you are aged over 50 and have a weakened immune system. If it doesn’t you can make an appointment yourself by contacting your GP.”
For more information on the vaccine visit NHS – Shingles vaccine.