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Shingles vaccination programme extended to more older patients

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Nurses and doctors have been told who should be immunised against shingles in the third year of a national vaccination programme designed to reduce cases of the condition.

From September the vaccine will be offered routinely to all 70-year-olds while a catch up vaccination programme initially focused on 79-year-olds will be extended to 78-year-olds.

“By the end of April 2015, over half of all 70, 78 and 79-year-olds had been vaccinated against shingles. This represents a significant achievement”

Dr Mary Ramsay

The move is part of an overall goal to offer a single dose of shingles vaccine to all 70 to 79-year-olds.

Patients who were eligible for immunisation in the first two years of the programme but have not yet been vaccinated can still get the jab, health professionals were told in a letter sent out by Public Health England this week.

However, people who have turned 80 are no longer eligible “due to the reducing efficacy of the vaccine as age increases”, the letter adds.

The shingles immunisation programme, which launched in September 2013, has been hailed a success by public health experts.

In its second year, from 2014 to 2015, 48% of 70-year-olds and 50% of 79-year-olds in England were vaccinated.

Herpes zoster

Shingles

“We’re hoping to repeat the success of the 2014 to 2015 vaccination campaign,” said Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE.

“By the end of April 2015, over half of all 70, 78 and 79-year-olds had been vaccinated against shingles,” she said. “This represents a significant achievement and will result in a considerable reduction in the number of cases of this debilitating and painful condition.”

The letter to professionals also included information about ordering the vaccine and directed nurses and others to detailed clinical guidance on administering it.

Signed by Dame Barbara Hakin, national director of commissioning operations at NHS England, and Professor Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director at PHE, it also thanked nurse and doctors for their work.

“We are grateful for your continued support in implementing this important programme,” it said.

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