Vaccine available to protect against shingles

Date published: 05 October 2018

All people aged 70 and 78 years old are encouraged to get the shingles vaccine. It will help protect them against the common and painful disease and its complications.


Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you recover from chickenpox, some of the virus remains inactive in the body and nervous system. It can then reactivate later in life when your immune system is weakened.

About a quarter of adults will get shingles at some point in their life.

For many people, shingles can be a mild infection with good recovery. But it can also be very painful and is more likely to affect people 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.


The vaccine will be offered routinely to:

  • people aged 70 years on 1 September 2018 (those born between 2 September 1947 and 1 September 1948, inclusive)
  • people aged 78 on 1 September 2018 (those born between 2 September 1939 and 1 September 1940, inclusive)

Anyone eligible for the vaccine in previous years, but didn’t get it, can get vaccinated this year if they are under 80 years of age.

The shingles vaccine is given as a single injection in the upper arm and, unlike the flu vaccine, you only need to have it once.

Side effects are usually quite mild and don’t last very long. The most common side effects include:

  • headache; and/ or
  • pain and swelling where injected

You can find out more about the vaccination at the page below:

If you are invited for the vaccine by your GP, you are encouraged to get vaccinated to help avoid getting shingles and its painful after-effects.

Lowered immunity

People who have lowered immunity must not get the shingles vaccine, including anyone who has leukaemia, lymphoma or is having chemotherapy.

Other medicines can also lower immunity, for example, high doses of oral steroids.

Check with your GP if you are on any treatment, especially if it is prescribed to you at a hospital.

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