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Avoiding Shingles

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At the most recent Patient Participation Group meeting at Haddenham Medical Centre, professional staff were keen to point out the availability of an NHS Shingles vaccination programme for elderly people.

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it. It's caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.

The main symptom of shingles is pain, followed by a rash that develops into itchy blisters, similar in appearance to chickenpox.

It's estimated around one in every four people will have at least one episode of shingles during their life. However, it is more common among elderly patients.

It's not always possible to prevent shingles, but a vaccine called Zostavax can reduce the chances of developing the condition.

If you still develop shingles after having this vaccine, it may be milder and last for a shorter time than usual.

This vaccine is now routinely offered on the NHS as a single injection to people aged 70 to 78, but the eligibility criteria are slightly complicated. The easiest way to determine this is to enter your date of birth into the online checker facility you will find here.

There are reports that the NHS link is not working properly. Therefore, the diagram on the right may assist you further. (Click on the graphic to view an enlarged version).

The shingles vaccine is not available on the NHS to anyone aged 80 and over because it seems to be less effective in this age group.

You can have the shingles vaccination at any time of year, though many people will find it convenient to have it at the same time as their annual flu vaccination.

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