24 November 2017
Almost 5,000 Islanders aged 70-79 have taken up the offer of having the shingles vaccine to protect themselves against the condition. The Health and Social Services Department is issuing a final reminder to anyone in their seventies, who hasn’t yet been vaccinated, that they have until the end of this year to get protected.
Dr Chad Taylor, Consultant in Pain Medicine, said: “Shingles is a very painful condition and whilst it can occur at any age, it is those in their seventh decade that are most likely to suffer from the condition. The older you are, often you’re more likely to suffer from shingles for longer and have an increased risk of complications, such as ongoing nerve pain.
“I have patients who have been severely affected and experienced a significant drop in their quality of life from having shingles. There is no cure for the condition, so preventing it by having the vaccination is, by far, the best option. And if you have already had shingles, the vaccine will boost your immunity against further shingles attacks. I would urge those aged 70-79 to get themselves protected, if they haven’t already done so.”
Dr Linda Diggle, Head of Preventive Programmes, is overseeing the vaccination campaign. She said “The national recommendation is that we offer this vaccine at age 70; we don’t give the vaccine to younger people because the protection needs to last the individual through their 70s. There’s an additional national recommendation to offer shingles vaccine in a one-off catch-up campaign for people up to, and including, age 79. This is what we have been doing throughout 2017 and almost 60% of those we have written to have now had the vaccination.”
Dr Diggle added “We know that up to 5% of those aged 70-79 cannot have the shingles vaccine because they are undergoing treatment which contra-indicates them receiving it. Also, the vaccine isn’t offered to those aged 80 or above as it’s not very effective when given at that age. That still leaves a number of people aged 70-79 who may still want to get protected. My message to them is to make a vaccination appointment with your doctor as soon as possible, because once we get to the end of 2017, the catch-up campaign will be finished.
“Shingles vaccine is a very expensive vaccine; if someone was to have it privately, the vaccine would cost people between £100 and £200. For those aged 70-79, HSSD is paying for the cost of the vaccine and they just need to check with their surgery as to how much they will be charged for the consultation. Eligible Islanders wishing to have the vaccine will need to make an appointment at their GP surgery before the end of December.”
From January 2018 onwards, the routine shingles vaccination programme will continue for Islanders reaching the year of their 70th birthday. Those who will be 70 during 2018 will receive an explanatory letter during the early weeks of 2018.