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Your voice on health and social care

People in their 70s in the Thames Valley area are urged to take up free shingles vaccine offer


People in their 70s in Thames Valley are being urged to protect themselves against shingles with a free vaccine.

 Local GP practices are offering patients the free vaccination as part of the NHS shingles immunisation campaign for 2017/18.

By the end of June 2017, only half of all eligible patients in Thames Valley had been vaccinated against shingles and the NHS is encouraging everyone who is offered the vaccine to take it up.

 Paula Jackson, Public Health Screening and Immunisation lead for NHS England South Central said: “As people get older their immune system naturally weakens which is why those people aged 70 and over are more likely to get shingles. Shingles can be very painful and lead to health problems long after the initial rash has disappeared.

 “I would encourage all patients who are eligible to take up the free offer from their GP surgery and get vaccinated against the virus.”

 Shingles is a very itchy, painful, burning group of blisters caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox (varicella-zoster) virus. The rash commonly affects one area of the body, often the chest, and can last up to four weeks.

However for some people, pain can persist for several months, or even years, after the rash has disappeared.

 The shingles vaccine is offered to:

  • patients aged 70 years
  • patients aged 78 years

 In addition, patients who were eligible for immunisation in the first three years of the programme (which began on 1 September 2013) but have not yet been vaccinated against shingles remain eligible until their 80th birthday. These are:

  • patients in their 70s who were born after 1 September 1942 and have not yet had the vaccine
  • patients aged 79 years old who have missed out on the vaccine 

 Those patients eligible can contact their GP surgery, to be vaccinated.

The NHS encourages people over 70 to stay healthy and avoiding becoming ill during the winter months.