The Shingles Vaccine, is now available in the UK, at the GP Matters Clinic in Glasgow.
The vaccine has a product license for people aged 50 and over, and can be administered to anyone able to receive a live vaccine. (The main categories of people who should not receive live vaccines are people with reduced or suppressed immunity, including those taking high doses of steroids or during pregnancy.) The vaccine is given once only. It can be administered "off-label" to individuals aged less than 50 at the doctor's discretion.
Shingles and its complications
Shingles is caused by reactivation of the chickenpox virus. The incidence of this from the age of 50 onwards is greatly increased, and is higher in women than in men.
In the UK, 90% of the population has had chickenpox infection; 25% of adults will get shingles; and of those, 20% will develop long term complications such as localised pain which can last up to 6-7 years.
The increased incidence with age is most marked in the 50+ age group, with a reduction in immunity; the vaccine prevents virus reactivation and its complication; the overall success rate of the vaccine in preventing shingles is 51% and is more effective in younger age groups than in older ones; the vaccine also reduces the severity and duration of complications in those patients who do ultimately develop shingles.
The vaccine consists of a modified form of the herpes zoster virus that does not cause disease. Side effects are the normal side effects experienced with other vaccines, such as site irritation or a sore arm; rarely, a chicken-pox like rash may occur at the injection site.
Patients cannot get shingles from this vaccine, but have a very small chance of getting chicken pox.
There is no danger in giving this vaccine to people who may not have had chicken pox, this is essentially the chicken pox vaccine in a greater dosage, so it will just end up protecting them from chicken pox.
Vaccine Course: The vaccine is given once only.
Cost: £220 (which includes the appointment fee)