Changes to Shingles Immunisation Programme

Priscilla Lynch 

August 23, 2021

Public Health England (PHE) has written to health care providers to inform them of key changes to the shingles immunisation programme.

From 1 September 2021, GPs should offer the inactivated shingles vaccine Shingrix to all those who are eligible for shingles vaccination but are clinically contraindicated to receive the live vaccine Zostavax due to their immunocompromised status. This is based on the recommendation made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The Committee noted that vaccination in the immunocompromised group is particularly important due to the higher incidence of herpes zoster. This advice was consistent with the original recommendation for vaccination of all adults aged 70-79 years with the herpes zoster vaccine. There is now a sufficient supply of the Shingrix vaccine to be able to implement the JCVI recommendation.

Shingrix requires a two-dose schedule, with the second dose administered from 2 months (and ideally within 6 months) following the first dose. Shingrix can be administered alongside the flu and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines.

GPs should continue to offer Zostavax to eligible patients who are not contraindicated.

In line with the current requirements of the shingles programme, vaccination will be offered via a proactive call to those becoming eligible at the age of 70 years and will be offered opportunistically or if requested for those aged over 70 years until the age of 80 years.

“Ongoing efforts are needed to identify and vaccinate all Zostavax® eligible individuals who have not been vaccinated to ensure a continuing reduction in the number of cases of this condition. We encourage providers to take every opportunity to offer shingles vaccination to eligible patients throughout the year to help to protect as many older people as possible,” said Deborah Tomalin, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Director of Public Health Commissioning and Operations, and Dr Mary Ramsay, PHE Head of Immunisation, in the joint letter to health care staff.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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