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Almost a million more people to become eligible for shingles vaccination from September

by Emily Roberts
24 July 2023

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GP practices in England are being urged to plan for the rollout of a new shingles vaccination programme from this September as 900,000 more people will become eligible to receive the jab.

A new vaccine is also being introduced – two doses of non-live singles vaccine Shingrix will replace the one-dose Zostavax for the whole shingles programme, NHS England announced earlier this month.

From 1 September 2023, eligibility for the vaccine will be expanded to anyone who is immunosuppressed and aged over 50. Currently the vaccine is only available to those aged over 70.

Over a phased-10-year period, eligibility for everyone will move from age 70 to 60 years, based on recommendations in 2019 by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

So, from 1 September 2023, those turning 65 or 70 will be able to receive the vaccine after their birthday, in addition to those already aged 70 to 80.

From September 2028, the vaccine will be offered to those turning 65 and 60. From 1 September 2033 onwards, the vaccine will be offered routinely at age 60 years.

The changes have been made following recommendations from the JCVI that individuals be protected at an earlier age.

‘Immunocompromised individuals represent the highest priority for vaccination given their risk of severe disease, and therefore the programme aims to catch up all immunocompromised individuals aged 50 years and over in the first year of the programme implementation’  NHS England said in its guidance.

Other points about the changed Shingles programme include:

  • The dosing interval is different for the routine and immunocompromised cohorts.  For immunocompromised individuals, the second dose should be given eight weeks to six months after the first. For everyone else, the second dose can be given six to 12 months after the first.
  • Anyone who has already been vaccinated against shingles and received the Zostavax vaccine does not need re-vaccination with Shingrix. Immunocompromised individuals who have already received two doses of Shingrix also do not need to be vaccinated again.
  • Shingrix should be offered to all people reaching eligible age on or after 1 September 2023.
  • Those cohorts previously eligible for Zostavax who are under 80 years old should continue to be offered this until central stocks run out, after which they should be offered Shingrix.

GP practices are expected to contact patients when they become eligible from this September and undertake catch-up call/recall for the newly eligible immunocompromised patients aged 50 to 69 years in the first year of the revised programme.

GPs and practice nurses may also offer the vaccine opportunistically, such as during routine visits or check-ups, to make it as easy as possible for patients to get the jab.

Practices will receive a payment of £10.06 per dose administered.

Shingrix will be available to order online via the ImmForm website. Surgeries can also obtain updated patient information materials, including patient leaflets, shingles birthday reminder invitation postcards, posters, and record cards, from Health Publications, or here.  A shingles checklist document is  also available to order and download here.

Steve Russell, national director of vaccinations and screening at NHS England, said: ‘While the country has been focused on the NHS’s successful Covid and flu vaccine programmes, there remain other preventable illnesses like shingles which can be fatal to those most at risk.

‘With a quarter of people getting shingles in their lifetime, and with it being one of the few conditions that cannot achieve herd immunity, the expansion of the programme will provide peace of mind to hundreds of thousands and save lives’.