Older people encouraged to get vaccinated to avoid painful shingles

By on 02/02/2016 in News

Public Health England (PHE) in the West Midlands is reminding eligible older people to get the shingles vaccine to help prevent the painful infection, following new figures showing a drop in vaccine coverage nationally.

The shingles vaccine has been offered to people aged 70 years on 1 September 2015. People aged 78 years on 1 September 2015 can also get vaccinated.

Nationally, data for the September 2015 to November 2015 quarter shows  a drop of 2% in coverage for 70 year olds compared to the same period the previous year (37.8% down from 39.8%) and 0.4% drop for the catch-up cohort (78 year olds) (38.2% down from 38.6%).

In the West Midlands however, there is an increase in uptake for 70 year olds across the region, except in Shropshire and Staffordshire, with a decrease in coverage of 1.4% (38.9% down from 40.3%). Meanwhile in the 78 year old catch-up cohort, there is an increase in coverage in Shropshire, Staffordshire, Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull; but a decrease of 1.8% across Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Warwickshire and Coventry.

Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox), which is commonly caught in childhood. After a person has had chickenpox, the virus can lie dormant in the nervous tissue but may reappear as shingles. An episode of shingles typically lasts around two to four weeks. The main symptoms are pain, followed by a rash. It is possible to have shingles more than once.

Although shingles vaccination is often offered at the same time as the annual flu vaccination, shingles vaccine is available at any time throughout the year to eligible people.

Those who were eligible for immunisation in the first two years of the programme but have not yet been vaccinated against shingles remain eligible until their 80th birthday. These are people aged 71, 72 or 79 on 1 September 2015.

Birmingham Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips, said: “Shingles can be a debilitating and painful condition, so if you’re eligible for the vaccine it really is the sensible thing to do.

“The shingles vaccine is routinely offered to individuals at the age of 70 years to boost their immunity to prevent the development of shingles and significantly reduce the incidence of post herpetic neuralgia – persistent nerve pain that can occur at the site of a previous attack of shingles.

“Since the introduction of the shingles vaccine there has been a considerable reduction in the number of cases of this debilitating and painful condition.”

Notes to Editors

Shingles vaccine coverage in the West Midlands region by age cohort for September to November 2014 and 2015

Area % coverage in 70yr olds2015 % coverage in 70yr old cohort2014 % coverage in 78yr old catch-up cohort2015 % coverage in 78yr old catch-up cohort2014
Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire & Coventry 40.1 39.5 39.5 41.3
Solihull, Birmingham & the Black Country 37.7 36.3 37.0 35.5
Shropshire & Staffordshire                   38.9 40.3 40.1 39.7
ENGLAND 37.8 39.8* 38.2 38.6*

*adjusted figures

The universal routine herpes zoster (shingles) vaccination programme for adults aged over 70 years started in September 2013. Coverage in the second year of the programme is 48.7% for 70 year olds and 50.3% for 79 year olds.

Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health.

Website: www.gov.uk/phe   Facebook: www.facebook.com/PublicHealthEngland

Follow us on Twitter @PHE_UK   @PHE_WestMids

For more information contact PHE West Midlands press office on 0121 232 9223/ 9277


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