Practice nurses and GPs across London are being urged to boost uptake of the shingles vaccine among people aged over 70 years old as part of a city-wide campaign.
The Royal College of Nursing is among organisations backing the Keep Well and Prevent Shingles campaign, launched by the Office of London Clinical Commissioning Groups last week.
”Now is the time to focus on all those patients in your practice population aged 70 to 73. It is essential for all practices to get involved”
Anyone aged between the ages of 70 and 73 is entitled to the free, one-off jab at any time but figures show vaccination rates in the capital are low – at just 48% compared to 58% across England.
This is despite the fact that about one in four people aged over 70 will get shingles, which can cause long-term pain and require hospital treatment.
As part of the campaign, which will run until October, all GP practice and pharmacy leaders will be sent a support pack, which includes letters for patients, patient leaflets and posters to display.
The RCN is backing the campaign and encouraging practice nurses and their colleagues to get involved.
Helen Donovan, professional lead for public health nursing at the RCN, said the impact of shingles was often underestimated.
“We bring our children to be vaccinated and take it very seriously - I wish we gave a similar priority to adults”
“It can be a particularly painful disease with complications of posthepatic neuralgia, which can last for many months and it can also result in hospitalisation,” she said.
“The shingles vaccine is effective particularly at minimising these symptoms. Now is the time to focus on all those patients in your practice population aged 70 to 73. It is essential for all practices to get involved and actively call in those who are eligible from their practice lists,” she added.
The campaign is supported by all 32 London clinical commissioning groups, the London branches of NHS England and Public Health England and all London pharmacies, which will be running a signposting campaign throughout July to encourage people to go and get vaccinated.
Key information and messages are also being shared via a social media campaign with the hashtag #Shingles.
Dr Debbie Frost, the campaign’s clinical commissioning lead, urged clinicians to take part and help spread the word.
“The reason I’m passionate about the shingles immunisation is that anything that causes misery and disrupts the lives of our patients which can easily be prevented should be, and this is often the case with shingles,” she said.
“We bring our children to be vaccinated and take it very seriously - I wish we gave a similar priority to adults,” added Dr Frost.