How do you catch shingles?+
You don’t “catch” shingles – it comes on when there is a reactivation of chickenpox virus that is already in your body. After you have recovered from chickenpox the varicella-zoster virus lies dormant in your nerve cells and can reactivate at a later stage when your immune system is weakened. Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles.
Is shingles serious?+
Yes, it can be. Not only can shingles be very painful and uncomfortable, some people are left with long-lasting pain called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) for years after the initial rash has healed. Very occasionally, shingles can be fatal.
What is post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN)?+
After the shingles blisters heal, pain can last for months or years and may be severe. This long-lasting nerve pain is called post-herpetic neuralgia or PHN.
How common is shingles?+
It is estimated that around one in five people who have had chickenpox (usually in childhood) go on to develop shingles. That means that tens of thousands of people in England and Wales will get shingles each year.
How effective is the shingles vaccine?+
Shingles vaccine is expected to reduce cases of shingles infection by 38%. For those who do get shingles, it should reduce the severity of the illness (i.e. 55% reduction in the burden of illness); it prevents two thirds of cases of post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) in older people (i.e. 67% reduction in PHN cases).
How safe is the shingles vaccine?+
There is lots of evidence showing that the shingles vaccine is very safe. It is already been used in several countries, including the US and Canada, and no safety concerns have been raised. The vaccine also has few side effects.
Will there be any side effects from the shingles vaccination?+
It is quite common to experience redness and discomfort at the vaccination site as well as headaches, but these side effects shouldn’t last more than a few days. See your GP if you have persistent side effects, or if you develop a rash after having the shingles vaccination.
Read more about the side effects of the shingles vaccine: click here – Package Leaflet: Information for the user.
How is the shingles vaccine given?+
It is given as an injection into the upper arm.
Will I be entitled to receive this vaccine free on the NHS?+
The shingles vaccine is licensed for those aged 50 but it is only available on the NHS for certain ages. Click here for details on the NHS vaccination programme: www.nhs.uk
Do you need to have the shingles vaccination every year?+
No, it is a one-off single injection. Current research has shown that the vaccine will protect you for at least five to ten years and probably longer. The vaccine can safely be given at the same time as the seasonal flu vaccine and the pneumonia vaccine.
Which people shouldn’t have the shingles vaccine?+
- if you are allergic (hypersensitive) to any of the components of this vaccine
- if you have a blood disorder or any type of cancer that weakens your immune system
- if you have been told by your doctor that you have a weakened immune system as a result of a disease, medicines, or other treatment
- if you have active untreated tuberculosis
- if you are pregnant (in addition, pregnancy should be avoided for 1 month after vaccination)
Ask your GP or our pharmacist if any of the above applies to you.
Do I need the shingles vaccine if I’ve never had chickenpox?+
The chances are that you have had chickenpox at some point without knowing it. Some people have chickenpox without displaying any of the typical chickenpox symptoms like rash.
Should I have the shingles vaccine if I’ve already had shingles?+
The shingles vaccine works very well in people who have had shingles before and it will boost your immunity against further shingles attacks.