Shingles vaccination programme could be launched in 2013

Shingles vaccination could be offered to all 4.5m people in the UK aged 70-79 from next year, government advisors have said.

Shingles: vaccination campaign from 2013 (photo: SPL)
Shingles: vaccination campaign from 2013 (photo: SPL)

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has revealed that sufficient supplies of shingles vaccine may be available in 2013 to launch a programme.

In 2010 the DH announced that all 4.5m people in the UK aged 70-79 would be offered shingles vaccination, provided a licensed vaccine could be obtained at a reasonable cost.

The shingles vaccine Zostavax has been licensed in the UK since 2006. But supply problems have limited availability of the vaccine because the virus it uses is complicated to grow on the scale needed for vaccine production.

Zostavax was made available in February 2012 on a private-prescription basis and it can now also be prescribed on the NHS.

The JCVI revealed in the minutes of its latest meeting that there may now be sufficient supply of shingles vaccine to implement a vaccination programme in 2013. The committee said any such programme would depend on the vaccine being available for purchase at a cost-effective price.

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