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New age groups offered shingles vaccine

27 January 2017

Islanders born in 1947 are now eligible to have the shingles vaccine anytime during 2017. This is part of the programme offering the vaccine to Islanders during the year of their 70th birthday. Those who are turning 70 this year (ie born in 1947) will receive a letter from the Health and Social Services Department (HSSD) advising them to make an appointment with their GP for the vaccination.

HSSD is also gradually rolling out a shingles vaccine ‘catch-up’ programme for older people. At present, Islanders born in 1938 and 1939 are being urged to have the vaccine, ideally by the end of March 2017. After that point, other year groups will be offered the vaccination.

Head of Preventive Programmes, Dr Linda Diggle, said “Last year the routine programme for 70-year-olds covered those born in 1946. We were very pleased with the uptake amongst this age group, with over 68% choosing to get this protection. Towards the end of last year, we also offered the shingles vaccine to the first catch-up group, which was Islanders born in 1937.

“In the first year that the UK introduced the shingles vaccine to people aged 70, which was 2013, the uptake was 62%, so our rates in Jersey are very encouraging.”

Shingles is a very painful condition, often with long-lasting effects that can persist for three to six months or even longer. Shingles can happen at any age, but most commonly occurs when people are in their 70s, and this is also the age group most at risk of suffering complications from the condition, such as nerve pain.

The shingles vaccine is very effective – evidence shows that it makes a difference in preventing shingles and protecting the age group who are most at risk. HSSD is funding the actual cost of the vaccine. Patients will only be charged for the cost of the consultation with their GP.

Dr Diggle added “Every January, the routine programme will move on to invite the next year group of eligible Islanders due to become 70 during that calendar year; this year it’s the turn of those born in 1947.

“Alongside this routine programme, we are also running a catch-up programme to gradually invite all those aged 71-79 to have the vaccine. However, due to the fact that we have limited supplies of the shingles vaccine at any one time, this catch-up programme is being rolled out in phases. Those born in 1938 and 1939 are currently eligible until 31 March 2017. It’s important that, when Islanders become eligible, they get the vaccine during the dates specified, before the catch-up programme moves on to be offered to the next oldest cohorts.”

As Islanders become eligible, HSSD will inform them via a letter inviting them to attend their GP surgery to get the vaccine. Those from the relevant year-groups - 1938, 1939 and 1947 - should contact their GP if they haven't received a letter by the end of January.

There are a small number of people for whom the vaccine may not be suitable such as those with a weakened immune system through medication or treatment – anyone who is unsure should discuss this with their GP.

Further details will be announced in April about the next eligible year-of-birth groups to be offered the shingles vaccine as part of the catch-up programme.

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