A universal routine herpes zoster (shingles) vaccination programme for adults over 70 years old is due to begin in September 2013, the government has announced.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the programme will reduce the incidence and severity of shingles in older people who are most at risk of suffering from the condition.
Shingles can result in complications leading to surgery.
JCVI has recommended that the shingles vaccine be administered when patients are called for the seasonal influenza vaccine or the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV).
However, the guidance emphasises that GPs need not wait for patients to schedule a flu jab appointment.
Everyone aged 70 to 79 years has a right to receive the vaccine, however due to limited supply of the vaccine, Public Health England, who published the guidance, has advised that there is only enough of the vaccine to “fully vaccinate two birth cohorts – the routine cohort, and one catch-up cohort (those aged 79 on 1 September 2013)”.