If you’re aged 70 or above, you may receive a letter from your GP inviting you for a vaccination to protect you from shingles, something the public health
teamwould strongly encourage you to accept.
GP practices across Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are writing to eligible patients to ensure older people are protected from the nasty,debilitating and, in some cases, long lasting illness.
Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. A bout of chickenpox does not protect you from shingles; the virus remains in your system and can be reactivated when the immune system is weakened – something which happens as we get older.
Shingles consists of a very itchy, painful rash that commonly affects one area of the body. It can also affect nerves, including those in the face and eyes. Before the rash breaks out, people often feel tired and run-down and may have a slight fever.
For somepeople, the pain of shingles can persist for several months, or even years, afterthe rash has disappeared. Complications of shingles can also be fatal foraround 1 in 1,000 over-70s who develop the illness. This is why it is soimportant that eligible people take up the offer and get vaccinated against thevirus.
Dr Stephen Poole, Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology Registrar, Wessex said: “Shingles can lead to pain and misery for many elderly people, so please check your eligibility for the vaccine with your GP practice and book an appointment as soon as possible. One simple injection can save you having to go through a long and painful illness.”
Gwynneth Moore, from Hampshire, was diagnosed with shingles five years ago and has the following advice: "Shingles can develop almost anywhere on your face or body but the first symptom I had was an acute pain in my eye. Two days later, a rash appeared all over the side my face and head and I feel generally unwell. I was diagnosed with shingles and have been taking medication for five years. My eye remains painful and the virus has caused my sight to deteriorate. I cannot emphasise enough the pain and misery of shingles. Shingles has had the most devastating effect on my life and I would certainly recommend the vaccination to all eligible elderly people.''
Clare Simpson, Consultant in Public Health and Screening and Immunisation Lead in the Wessex area said: “Shingles can lead to pain and misery for many elderly people, so please check your eligibility for the vaccine with your GP practice and book an appointment as soon as possible for your injection. One simple vaccination can save you having to go through a long, painful and debilitating illness”
The shingles vaccine will often be offered alongside the annual flu vaccine, but it can be given at any time during the year.
People who become eligible for the vaccine remain eligible until their 80th birthday. People nearing their 80th birthday are particularly encouraged to book an appointment for vaccination if they have not already done so to ensure they are protected.
The NHS encourages eligible people to speak to their GP practice to arrange to be vaccinated.
More information about the shingles is on the NHS Choices website here
, along with detailed information
about eligibility for the shingles vaccine.