Preliminary data published today (30 May 2014) shows sustained and improved uptake of the shingles vaccination since its introduction in September last year. The programme offers routine vaccination for those aged 70 years, and a catch up campaign, which for the first year of the programme was targeted at 79 year olds.
In the first 8 months since the introduction of this programme, 54.8% of 70 year olds and 53.1% of 79 year olds have been vaccinated. This is an increase of 8.2% for the 70 year olds and 7.6% for the 79 year olds when compared to the previously published preliminary data up to the end of January 2014.
Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it, which causes a rash on the skin. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox, and is common in people over 70 years of age. The rash can be very itchy and uncomfortable and in some cases, especially in older adults, it can lead to complications including long term pain.
Dr Mary Ramsay, PHE’s head of immunisation said:
We are pleased with the coverage of the new shingles immunisation programme and that the number of those receiving the vaccine is continuing to increase.
We are writing to Screening and Immunisation Leads across England to remind them to use this window of opportunity to work with primary care colleagues so that as many of the eligible population as possible are protected against what can be an unpleasant and sometimes serious infection.
Shingles vaccine supply was subject to temporary limitations due to vaccine availability between September and December last year but these problems have been fully resolved and the supply problem has not impacted on the overall programme. This is an annual programme and so eligible patients still have until 31 August 2014 to be vaccinated.
Adults aged between 71 and 78 will become eligible for vaccination in the next few years
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