Herpes zoster or ‘shingles’ is a localised, painful, vesicular skin rash resulting from reactivation of varicella-zoster virus (the same virus that causes chickenpox earlier in life).
Although shingles is usually self-limiting, it can lead to post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), a chronic nerve pain syndrome, and other complications.
About 20–30% of people will have shingles in their lifetime, most after the age of 50 years.
Older people (particularly those aged over 70 years) are also more likely to experience complications such as PHN.
There are two shingles vaccines (shingrix and zostavax) which can be administered from the age of 50 years of age and may be recommended for individuals with chronic medical conditions who may be at higher risk of complications from the shingles infection.
Shingrix is preferred over Zostavax for prevention of shingles and its complications in people aged over 50 years because it has a higher efficacy.
If you are currently 70 years of age, you are eligible to get the Zostavax immunisation funded now, or the Shingrix vaccination will be funded from later this year whilst you are still aged 70.
If you are aged 71-79, your chance to get a funded shingles vaccination ends on the 31st of October 2023.
If you are aged less than 70 years of age, speak with your GP if vaccination is suitable for you.