News story

Approaching 80? Make sure you have had your shingles vaccine

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against this debilitating illness.


Public Health England (PHE) is reminding those aged 79 years who have previously been offered shingles vaccine but haven’t received it, to ensure they have it before their 80th birthday.

From 1 September 2013, the shingles vaccine has been offered routinely to people aged 70 with an ongoing catch-up programme to ensure everyone is offered the vaccine before their 80th birthday. For the 2015 to 2016 programme, people aged 78 years on 1 September 2015 have also been offered the vaccine as part of this catch-up programme. In addition, those eligible for the vaccine in the previous 2 years of the programme, but who missed out, remain eligible until their 80th birthday.

The vaccine will reduce the risk and severity of shingles in those most likely to be affected by the illness, but any individual who reaches their 80th birthday is no longer eligible for the vaccine due to the reducing effectiveness of the vaccine as age increases. PHE is also calling for people to check if their parents or grandparents are eligible for the vaccine, and have yet to take it up, as it could be their last chance.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, leading the shingles vaccine programme at PHE said:

The shingles vaccine is the best way to protect against this debilitating illness and significantly reduces the incidence of post herpetic neuralgia – persistent nerve pain that can occur at the site of a previous attack of shingles.

The shingles vaccine is available from your GP and anyone who missed out on the vaccine in the first 2 years of the programme continues to remain eligible until their 80th birthday. This includes people aged 71, 72 or 79 on 1 September 2015. If this is relevant to your parents or grandparents and they have not had the shingles vaccine, the best thing to do is to encourage them to check with their GP practice to find out if they’re eligible now.

We strongly recommend getting vaccinated to prevent this painful condition. You only need to be vaccinated once and it’s important that you get it while you’re the right age.

We are very pleased to say, that since the introduction of the shingles vaccine, there has been a considerable reduction in the number of cases attending GP practices, among those groups eligible for vaccination.

Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox in children. The risk and severity increases with age. Shingles tends to present with a rash which can be very painful. In some individuals, the pain can persist for several months after the rash has disappeared (known as post herpetic neuralgia or PHN). Anyone who has concerns that they may have symptoms of the virus should contact their GP.

The table below is a guide for who is eligible for the shingles vaccine in 2015 to 2016.

Date of birth Current age First became or will become eligible Eligible in 2015 to 2016
On or after 1 September 1946 69 or under 2016 to 2017 onwards No
2 September 1944 to 1 September 1945 70 or 71 2015 to 2016 Yes
2 September 1943 to 1 September 1944 71 or 72 2014 to 2015 Yes
2 September 1942 to 1 September 1943 72 or 73 2013 to 2014 Yes
2 September 1941 to 1 September 1942 73 or 74 2020 to 2021 No
2 September 1940 to 1 September 1941 74 or 75 2019 to 2020 No
2 September 1939 to 1 September 1940 75 or 76 2018 to 2019 No
2 September 1938 to 1 September 1939 76 or 77 2017 to 2018 No
2 September 1937 to 1 September 1938 77 or 78 2016 to 2017 No
2 September 1936 to 1 September 1937 78 or 79 2015 to 2016 Yes
2 September 1935 to 1 September 1936 79 or 80 2014 to 2015 Yes (but only up to 80th birthday)
2 September 1934 to 1 September 1935 80 or 81 2014 to 2015 No
2 September 1933 to 1 September 1934 81 or 82 2013 to 2014 No
On or before 1 September 1933 82 and over Never have been eligible No

Find out more about eligibility for the shingles vaccine.

Published 28 June 2016