Shingles vaccine campaign begins

GPs across the UK will begin offering vaccination against shingles from Monday in the latest of several new vaccination campaigns to launch this year.

The varicella zoster virus (pictured) can cause long-term health problems for elderly people
The varicella zoster virus (pictured) can cause long-term health problems for elderly people

Practices will offer vaccination against the varicella zoster virus to around 800,000 adults aged 70 and 79 across the UK.

It marks the start of a new routine programme to vaccinate all 70-year-olds against the disease, with a catch-up programme for 79-year-olds that will run for several years.

Vaccination programmes will take place in all UK countries. GPs will be paid £7.63 for each vaccine dose administered.

It follows advice from the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in 2010, which recommended universal vaccination to protect against shingles.

Health minister Lord Howe said: 'Shingles can be a nasty disease for older people and can lead to long-term health problems for around 14,000 people each year. This new vaccine can prevent some of the most serious cases, giving people the chance to live without the discomfort and pain that shingles causes.'

This year has seen many new vaccination programmes, including for influenza and rotavirus in children, as well as a change in the meningitis C schedule. An MMR catch-up campaign was launched earlier this year following outbreaks of measles in parts of the UK.

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