A vaccine to prevent shingles, a common skin disease that causes a painful rash and blisters, is available on the NHS to people aged 65+.

People who turn 65 or 70 on or after 1 September 2023 will be eligible for the vaccination. Anyone who is aged 50+ and immunocompromised will also be able to access the vaccination from this date.

If you turned 65 before 1 September 2023, you will be eligible for the shingles vaccine when you are 70. This is because the plan to vaccinate people at a younger age is a gradual process, with the age for vaccination ultimately set to come down to 60 over a period of 10 years.

Why vaccinate against shingles?

Shingles can make you feel very unwell and may even be fatal. Around one in 1,000 over-70s who develop shingles die from the disease.

People get shingles when the chickenpox virus already in the body reactivates. If you get shingles, you might feel a burning sensation in your skin and will go on to develop clusters of fluid-filled blisters that can burst and cause sores.

Shingles can occur for a variety of reasons, but it tends to happen more often in older people. The older you are, the more likely you are to be badly affected by shingles.

People who get better after having shingles may experience persistent pain for years after recovering. Even though the rash has disappeared, the illness can cause long-term discomfort.

The shingles vaccine will reduce your risk of developing shingles. If you do get it after having the vaccine, your symptoms may be less severe and your illness shorter.

Who is the vaccine for?

The shingles vaccine is available free on the NHS for people aged 65+.

You can have the shingles vaccine even if you have already had shingles, depending on how long you’ve been better. The vaccine works well in people who have had shingles previously and will boost your immunity against further attacks.

From 1 September 2023, most people will be offered a non-live version of the shingles vaccine, which requires two doses. Most people only need to have the shingles vaccination once.

What form does the vaccine take?

The shingles vaccine is given as an injection into the upper arm.

Depending on which version of the shingles vaccination you receive, you may need two doses.

There is a lot of evidence to support the safety of the shingles vaccine, which is used in the USA and Canada as well as the UK. No safety concerns have been raised, and it seems to have few side effects.

How do I get the shingles vaccine?

When you become eligible for a shingles vaccine, your GP or practice nurse should offer it to you when you attend the surgery.

If you haven’t been offered the shingles vaccine and are worried you might miss out, contact your GP surgery and make an appointment to have the vaccine.

Where can I find out more?

More information on shingles and the NHS shingles vaccination is available on the NHS website.

Have you had your shingles vaccination? If so, why not rate and review your experience here on our website?

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Published on 15 Aug, 2023 (updated 9 Jan, 2024)

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8 comments on "The NHS shingles vaccine: what you need to know"

  • Commenter said on 14th June 2023

    Is the shingle jab a one off jab.

  • Commenter said on 31st August 2023

    I have just tried to book a shingles jab at the G.P surgery. I’m 68 and was told I have to wait until I’m 70 but people of 65 can have it. Where is the sense in this? Surely I’m more at risk.

    • Commenter said on 11th September 2023

      I contacted my surgery today I am 65. Apparently up to 31 August I was 5 years too young and on 1 September I am 6 months too old and now I have to wait until I’m 70. Who makes these rules??

    • Commenter said on 18th November 2023

      I have the same problem..i was 67 in August 2023 and have been told the same..it’s totally illogical

  • Commenter said on 12th September 2023

    Totally agree
    It’s a cost thing ..NHS can’t afford it
    A private jab is in excess of £400😳

  • Commenter said on 2nd January 2024

    Why not at least make it available to all those aged 65 to 70 now?
    This, after all, is not a rare condition. According to the NHS, one in four people who’ve had chickenpox ( and that’s over 90 per cent of the population) will go on to have shingles.
    Yes, its’s a cost thing. The vaccine is expensive – but the economic consequences of a patient suffering shingles is far greater.
    The long term complications include post-herpetic neuralgia, pain in the area of the rash arising from the virus damaging nerves (this can be extremely crippling), depression, and general debility which may precipitate an older patient being taken into care.

  • Commenter said on 2nd February 2024

    I can understand a need to manage how many vaccines are given, to manage costs. But surely it would be more logical to bring the age criteria down progressively. Make it 69 or older first.

  • Commenter said on 15th March 2024

    I am 67 and incensed by the age discrimination. I have a friend who had Shingles when 68/69 and only offered the vaccine afterward. I understand the cost issues, but surely it would have made more sense to reduce the starting age from 70 to 69 etc year by year. This seems a lack of clear thinking.

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