Public Health England is reminding eligible older people to get the shingles vaccine to help prevent the painful infection, following a drop in coverage.
Since 1 September 2015 the shingles vaccine has been offered to people aged 70 years on 1 September 2015. People aged 78 years on 1 September 2015 can also get vaccinated.
Data for the September 2015 to November 2015 quarter shows a 2% drop in coverage for 70 year olds, compared to the same period the previous year (37.8% down from 39.8%) and 0.4% drop for the catch-up cohort (38.2% down from 38.6%).
Although shingles vaccination is often offered at the same time as the annual flu vaccination, shingles vaccine is available at any time throughout the year to eligible people.
Those eligible for immunisation in the first two years of the programme but have not yet been vaccinated remain able to do so until their 80th birthday. These are people aged 71, 72 or 79 on 1 September 2015.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England said: “We offer the shingles vaccine routinely to individuals at the age of 70 years to boost their immunity to prevent the development of shingles and significantly reduce the incidence of post herpetic neuralgia – persistent nerve pain that can occur at the site of a previous attack of shingles.
“Since the introduction of the shingles vaccine, there has been a considerable reduction in the number of cases of this debilitating and painful condition,” she added.
The universal routine herpes zoster vaccination programme for adults aged over 70 years started in September 2013.
Coverage in the second year of the programme is 48.7% for 70 year olds and 50.3% for 79 year olds.