Important Update on Shingles Vaccination

At Bridge Street Surgery, we’re always striving to keep our community informed about the latest developments in healthcare. We’re pleased to announce some important updates regarding the shingles vaccine in Australia.

Understanding Shingles

Shingles, medically known as herpes zoster, occurs when the chickenpox virus reactivates in the body. It can lead to severe pain that may persist for several months. The best way to safeguard against the severe effects of shingles is through vaccination.

Who Should Consider the Shingles Vaccine?

While anyone interested in shielding themselves from shingles can consult their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated, the Australian Immunisation Handbook has specific recommendations. They advocate shingles vaccination for:

  • Adults aged 50 years and over.
  • Immunocompromised adults aged 18 years and above.
  • Adults aged 50 years and over residing with someone who has a compromised immune system.

Possible Side Effects

Like all vaccinations, the shingles vaccine might lead to minor side effects, which typically subside within a few days. Common reactions include pain, redness, swelling at the injection site, a minor fever, or a rash. On rare occasions, particularly with the Zostavax® vaccination, there might be a more pronounced chickenpox-like rash. If you encounter such reactions or have concerns about potential side effects, we urge you to get in touch with us or your healthcare provider immediately.

Transition to Shingrix®

Starting 1 November 2023, the National Immunisation Program (NIP) will introduce the Shingrix® vaccine as a replacement for Zostavax® for shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia prevention. This vaccine will be freely available for:

  • Individuals aged 65 years and older.
  • First Nations people aged 50 years and above.
  • Immunocompromised individuals aged 18 years and above with specific medical conditions.

One significant benefit of Shingrix® is that it doesn’t contain a live virus, making it suitable for immunocompromised individuals aged 18 and over.

However, for those wondering about Zostavax®, it will remain available under the NIP for immunocompetent individuals aged 70 years, including a catch-up program for those aged 71–79 years, until 31 October 2023.

These adjustments are in line with recommendations from esteemed organisations like the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), and other medical experts.

As always, our team at Bridge Street Surgery is dedicated to ensuring that our community receives the best healthcare services. Should you have questions or need further information about the shingles vaccine or any other health concern, please don’t hesitate to contact us.