Shingles vaccine available for 70 and 78 year olds

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Thursday, October 8th, 2015
The Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding all people aged 70 and 78 years old that they are eligible to receive the shingles vaccine. phaThe vaccine will help protect them against this common and painful skin disease and its associated complications. It will be offered routinely to people who were aged 70 years on or before 1 September 2015 – ie born between 2 September 1944 and 1 September 1945 inclusive; and as part of a catch-up programme, also to those aged 78 on or before 1 September – ie born between 2 September 1936 and 1 September 1937 inclusive. The vaccine will then continue to be rolled out to other people in their seventies in future years. Dr Lucy Jessop, Consultant in Health Protection at the PHA, said, “Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you recover from chickenpox, some of the virus remains inactive in your body and nervous system. “It can then reactivate in later life when your immune system is weakened. About a quarter of adults will get shingles at some point in their life. For most people, shingles can be a mild infection with good recovery. But it can be very painful and uncomfortable and tends to affect people more commonly as they get older. “The older people are, the worse it can be, with some people left with pain lasting for years after the initial rash has healed. Lucy added, “It is estimated that the vaccination programme will prevent nearly 40% of the hundreds of cases seen every year in Northern Ireland in people over 70 and reduce the severity of the symptoms for those who do develop the condition”. The vaccine is given as a single injection in the upper arm but, unlike the flu vaccine, you only need to have it once. People who have lowered immunity must not receive the shingles vaccine, such as anyone who is on chemotherapy or has leukaemia or lymphoma. Other medicines can also lower immunity, for example, high doses of oral steroids and some drugs used for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, polymyositis, sarcoidosis and inflammatory bowel disease. Check with your GP if you are receiving any treatment, especially if it is prescribed to you at a hospital.
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