Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Shingles health centre

Shingles vaccine

People in their 70s are offered a vaccination on the NHS to protect against shingles

Shingles symptoms

Shingles is an infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, the herpes varicella-zoster virus. It results in a rash that can be mildly itchy to intensely painful.

There's also the risk of long-term nerve pain, called post-herpetic neuralgia.

The shingles vaccine

The vaccine, called Zostavax, is given as a single injection under the skin (subcutaneously). It can be given at any time in the year. Unlike with the flu jab, annual injections are not needed.

The vaccine has been tested for safety in clinical trials.

In rare cases there may be an allergic reaction to the vaccine and one of its components, neomycin. This includes skin rash or contact dermatitis.

The vaccine is licensed in Europe for adults over 50.

Shingles and ageing

Elderly people are at particular risk of shingles. The Department of Health says the vaccination programme will prevent 38% of the 30,000 cases seen every year in people over 70.

A large US study involving more than 760,000 people aged 65 and over found vaccination halved the chances of developing shingles.

The study published in PLoS Medicine found than without the jab, 1 in 100 people a year would develop shingles. After vaccination, that fell to 1 in 200.

Even if the vaccine doesn't stop a person developing shingles, a 55% reduction in symptoms is possible.

The NHS now provides the vaccine to anyone at the age of 70 and in a catch-up programme to people who are 78, plus people who missed the start of the programme up to the age of 80.

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 04, 2015

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman coughing
Home remedies for coughing
smiling baby
Causes and remedies
bowl of soup
Small changes that lead to weight loss
mother and child
Caring for a baby with cows' milk allergy
woman holding mouth
What causes sensitive teeth?
boy coughing
Treatments for cold and fever
bain illustration
Best foods for your brain
woman doing situps
7 most effective exercises
avacado on whole wheat crackers
Plenty to choose from
egg in cup
Surprising things that can harm your liver