10 March 2017
Islanders born in 1938 and 1939 are being urged to get the shingles vaccine, preferably before the end of March, if they haven’t already done so. In April, GP surgeries will start offering shingles vaccines to people in the next eligible year of birth groups. So far, just over half (51%) of those born in 1938 and 48% of those born in 1939 have been vaccinated.
Islanders born in 1938 and 1939 are being offered the vaccine as part of a 'catch-up' programme. The Health and Social Services Department (HSSD) is gradually rolling out the shingles vaccine for those born between 1937 and 1945 in an effort to protect those most likely to suffer from the condition. The first group that were offered the vaccine as part of the catch-up were those born in 1937. They were eligible last year from September to December, when 63% received the vaccine.
As well as the catch-up programme, there is a routine shingles vaccine programme offering vaccines to Islanders during the year of their 70th birthday. This year, the group of people entitled to receive the vaccine are Islanders born in 1947 and almost a third have already been vaccinated. In 2016, 69% of those born in 1946 had the vaccination.
Dr Linda Diggle, Head of Preventive Programmes said, “I would urge those born in 1938 and 1939 who want to have the vaccine to make an appointment with their GP as soon as possible, preferably before the end of March. At the beginning of April, letters will be posted to the next age groups eligible for the vaccine and GPs will be busy vaccinating the next groups of people.”
Dr Diggle added, “Shingles is a very painful condition and whilst it can occur at any age, it’s most likely to occur when people reach their seventies. As children, most of us get chickenpox and once we’re over the childhood illness the virus then lies dormant within our nerve cells. Our immune systems work to keep the virus in check, but as we age, our immune system becomes less effective at doing this, so the virus can resurface as shingles. Having the vaccination when you’re aged 70, or whilst you’re in your seventies, is the best way of protecting yourself and reducing your risk of getting shingles.”
Patients will be charged only for the cost of the consultation with their GP, as HSSD is funding the cost of the vaccine (the vaccine would cost an individual over £100 if they were to buy it privately).