Herpes-zoster (Shingles) is a painful blistering rash caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus – the same virus that causes chickenpox. The shingles rash occurs when the dormant chickenpox virus is reactivated in the nerve tissue, causing inflammation of the nerves. Sometimes pain in the affected region can be severe and prolonged. When it lasts more than 3 months it is called post herpetic neuralgia (PHN). Other less common complications may include scarring, skin infections, loss of vision or hearing, pneumonia, or neurological complications.
Shingles is a vaccine preventable disease. Immunisation against shingles is achieved by a dose of the Zostavax® vaccine which can be given to adults 50 years and over.
National Shingles Vaccination Program
The shingles vaccine is provided free for people aged 70 years under the National Immunisation Program. There is also a five year catch-up program for people aged 71 – 79 years until 31 October 2021. To receive the immunisation visit your local doctor or vaccination provider. It is important to note that although the vaccine is provided at no cost, a consultation fee may apply.
Routine vaccination of persons aged 70–79 years is expected to obtain the greatest benefits against shingles and its complications. Further information is provided in the online version of The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th edition.
People who are not eligible to receive the free vaccine are able to purchase the vaccine on the private market.
Vaccinations don’t stop at childhood. Ask your general practitioner or vaccination provider about other vaccines you may be eligible for.
A range of resources, including posters and factsheets on the National Shingles Vaccination Program are available on the Immunise Australia Publications & Resources website.
For more information please contact us or call us on 02 6288 6008