19 February 2020
People born in 1950 are eligible to receive the shingles vaccine during 2020 and are being urged to take up the offer.
Shingles can occur at any age, but it most commonly occurs during the 70th decade. When elderly people get shingles, the effects are more severe and in particular they have an increased risk of subsequent nerve pain – post herpetic neuralgia - which can persist for months or even years.
Letters have been sent to those born in 1950 informing them they are eligible for the vaccination. Even if their birthday is not until December, they can have the vaccine now; they do not have to wait until their birthday.
Dr Ivan Muscat, Consultant Microbiologist, said: "If you were born in 1950, please contact your surgery and make an appointment to get this important protection. It’s a quick injection and you only need to have it once. The surgery will charge a consultation fee to administer the injection - but the cost of the vaccine is funded by Health and Community Services. The vaccine itself would cost around £100 if an individual were to purchase it privately.
"Since introducing the vaccine in 2013, the UK has seen the incidence of post-herpetic neuralgia fall by 50% amongst the age group receiving the vaccine. That is a very worthwhile health gain."
Shingles is a very painful condition, caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox (herpes varicella-zoster virus). The vast majority of people have chickenpox as a child (even if they don’t remember it) and afterwards, the virus lies dormant in the body. As a person ages, the virus can become re-activated and cause shingles. You cannot catch shingles from someone who has chickenpox or from someone else with shingles.
Dr Muscat added: "Before the vaccine was introduced, Jersey had 80 to 90 cases of shingles per year among 70- to 79-year-olds. Many of those who experience nerve pain tell us they would strongly recommend friends or relatives to be vaccinated rather than suffer what they have been through. The older you are, the worse it can be. Please get yourself protected."
Further information about those who are eligible is available here.