Almost everyone is at risk of shingles because they are likely to have been exposed to chickenpox, even if they have no history of clinical chickenpox or chickenpox vaccination. Following chickenpox infection, the virus lies dormant in the nerves near the spine and may re-emerge many years later as shingles. Shingles most commonly affects older adults or people of any age with a weakened immune system.

One dose of Zostavax® is indicated for the prevention of shingles. It can be given to patients who have previously had shingles. 

A ‘catch-up’ programme is available for people aged from 65–80 years inclusively until 31 March 2020. This means that until 31 March 2020, the shingles vaccine is funded for ages 65 to 80. After 31 March 2020 it will be only funded at age 65 and not older. Those 66 and above will have to pay for the vaccine if they wish to receive this vaccine after 31 March 2020.

This vaccine contains a weakened form of the varicella-zoster virus, and as a live viral vaccine, is not suitable for some people with medical conditions or who are receiving treatments that affect their immune system. It is important to seek medical advice before receiving this vaccine.

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