Shingles vaccine

Shingles is a painful infection that usually affects older people. In Northern Ireland there is a vaccination programme which can protect older people against shingles. You get the vaccine from your GP.


Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. It is an infection of a nerve and the area of skin around it. It can cause a rash of painful, fluid-filled blisters on the skin that can burst and become sores that eventually crust over and heal. 

In serious cases, the pain can last longer. The older you are, the more likely you are to have long-lasting pain.

Getting the vaccine

By having the shingles vaccine, you reduce the risk of developing shingles. If you get shingles later, the symptoms will be milder and the illness will be shorter than if you didn't have the vaccination.

You get the vaccine in your upper arm. Unlike the annual seasonal flu vaccine you only need to be vaccinated once against shingles.

People who are eligible for the vaccine

From October 2018, your GP will offer you the vaccine if you were aged 70 or 78 on 1 September 2018 and were born:

  • between 2 September 1939 and 1 September 1940
  • between  2 September 1947and 1 September 1948

You are still eligible for the vaccine during 2018/2019 if you haven't already received the vaccine and:

  • are currently aged 71, 72, 73 , 74, 75 or 79
  • were born between 2 September 1938 and 1 September 1939 or between 2 September 1942 and 1 September 1947

If you fall into the group above you need to ask your GP for the vaccine. 

People aged 80 or over

The vaccine's effect diminishes with age therefore people aged 80 or older aren't eligible to receive the vaccine.

Side effects of getting the vaccine

The vaccine's side effects are:

If the side effects continue for more than a few days, contact your GP or practice nurse.

People who shouldn’t have the vaccine

If you have a weakened immune system, you shouldn't have the vaccine. Your GP can advise you.

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