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Shingles vaccine available to more people

03 August 2017

Islanders born in 1943, 1944 and 1945 are now eligible to receive a vaccine protecting them from the pain of shingles.

Over the past year, as part of a phased vaccine catch-up programme run by the Preventive Programmes Team in the Health and Social Services Department (HSSD), the shingles vaccine has been made available to people aged 71 to 79. Those who were the oldest were offered the vaccine first in an effort to protect those who were the most vulnerable. Uptake of the vaccine has been good and it’s now the turn of those born in 1943, 1944 and 1945 to receive the vaccine via their GP surgery.

As well as the catch-up programme, there is a routine programme offering shingles vaccine to islanders during their 70th birthday year. During 2016 and 2017, Islanders born in 1946 and 1947 respectively have been eligible to receive the vaccine.

Since the shingles vaccine programme was launched in September last year, almost 3,500 older Islanders have been protected.

Head of Preventive Programmes, Dr Linda Diggle, said “I’m really pleased that so many people in their seventies have taken the opportunity of protecting themselves from shingles by getting vaccinated. About one in every five people who had chickenpox when they were young go on to develop shingles later in life. Before the vaccine became available, each year around 80 to 90 people in Jersey aged over 70 years suffered with shingles. The older you are, often you’re more likely to suffer from shingles for longer and have an increased risk of complications, such as nerve pain. Shingles is often more painful for older people (even clothes brushing against the affected area can cause considerable pain). It’s also possible to get shingles more than once and shingles can be fatal in one in 1,000 cases.

“We’re now getting towards the end of the shingles catch-up programme and I would urge anyone who is aged 70 - 79 who hasn’t yet been vaccinated to contact their surgery. They have until the end of 2017 to take advantage of this service. There are a very 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.

“Islanders born in 1943, 1944 and 1945 will shortly receive a letter from the Preventive Programmes Team advising that they are now eligible for the vaccine. This will mean that everyone born between 1937 to 1947 should have been offered the shingles vaccination, however, if you are within the eligible age groups and you haven’t received a letter, it may be that we don’t have your most up-to-date address. We would still encourage you to contact your surgery as soon as possible.”

Those in the eligible groups will be charged only for the cost of the GP consultation, as HSSD is funding the cost of the vaccine (which would cost over £100 if an individual was to buy it privately).

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