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Shingles vaccine plan for over 70s

National vaccination plan hinges on securing a good price from manufacturers

OnMedica staff

Monday, 01 February 2010

The government has back recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for the introduction of a national shingles vaccination programme aimed at 70 to 79-year-olds.

Now the Department of Health will consult vaccine manufacturers as the JCVI recommendations stipulate that a programme should only be considered if the shingles vaccine can be procured at a price which would make it cost-effective.

A provision in the NHS Constitution means that if the JCVI recommends a vaccine programme based on an assessment of cost-effectiveness, patients have the right to receive the vaccine on the NHS.

Shingles most often affects, and is more severe in, older people. It is caused by the re-activation of the chickenpox virus that an individual caught, usually as a child.

It causes a painful rash of blisters, which can last for many weeks or months.  Although treatable with antiviral drugs, shingles can be extremely debilitating and sufferers may be hospitalised with many suffering chronic pain lasting months.

Shingles tends to be more serious the older people get, and about a quarter of adults will get shingles at some point in their life.

Minister for Public Health Gillian Merron said: "Shingles is an unpleasant illness which can be very serious, especially for older people.

"I welcome the recommendation from the experts on immunisation that we should look for a cost-effective vaccine.

"A vaccination programme would be good news for those in their 70s. It would improve people’s quality of life by offering protection against this illness."

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