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The NEW Shingles Vaccine: Shingrix

What is shingles?

Shingles, otherwise known as herpes zoster, is a painful rash on the face or body caused by the reactivation of the chicken pox virus, varicella-zoster.

After you have had chicken pox, the virus lies dormant in the body. For most people, it never reappears, but for around 1 in 4 people, mostly in people over 50 years old, the virus reactivates.

It is not always clear why this happens, but it seems associated with the immune system becoming supressed, allowing the virus to travel down the affected nerve, causing itching, tingling, pain and burning in the area of that nerve distribution.

After a few days of these painful symptoms, the skin overlying the area covered by the affected nerve becomes tender, and finally the rash appears. The rash usually resembles a cluster of small blisters, which erupt over the course of 5 to 7 days. For older people, the rash may last longer and cover larger areas, in severe case, the surface of the eye can be affected, leading to ulcers and scarring.

For some people, the pain from the shingles rash becomes chronic, for others the pain recurs in the area previous affected by shingles, this complication is known as post-herpetic neuralgia. It is thought that up to 70% of people over 60 years develop post-herpetic neuralgia after shingles.

Vaccination options

Zostavax was approved in 2006 and is a live attenuated vaccine for Herpes zoster.

Shingrix was approved in 2017 and is a recombinant adjuvanted zoster vaccine (non-live).

In the US, Zostavax is no longer being used for vaccination. Shingrix is now the preferred vaccine and trials have showed it to be around 97% effective in preventing shingles in patients aged 50-69 years old, compared to Zostavax:  70% effective in the same age group.

Shingrix is around 90% effective in patients over 70 years old, whereas Zostavax effectiveness decreases with age.

In the UK Zostavax is the vaccine given to all patients over 70 years old, and Shingrix is only given to those who have compromised immune systems and cannot have live vaccines.

Dosage and cost

Course: 2 doses are required 2-6 months apart

Shingrix £272 (price may change) per vaccine

Standard consultation fee £110 per vaccine dose

(NB. New patients will need to pay a registration fee)

Minimum age: 50 years old

For more information regarding Shingles, Post herpetic neuralgia and the vaccines available, please see the articles cited below.

If you would like to book an appointment please call 01372 221 400.

Articles cited (click on address links):

Blog article: Shingrix vs. Zostavax: Differences, similarities, and which is better for you

Shingrix patient information leaflet


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