Shingles Vaccine (Zostavax) – Free for 70-79 year olds

8 November 2016 – By Dr Olga Ilic

picture1From November 1 2016, Zostavax – the shingles vaccine is provided free for 70-79 year olds from your local General Practitioner.

It is thought up to 30% of people will have shingles in their lifetime and the risk increases as you get older. By the age of 85, one out of every 2 people will have had shingles in their life. Shingles is a reactivation of the chicken pox virus. After having chicken pox (often as a child) the virus lies dormant in the body. It can reactivate at any time but more frequently as you get older.

When this virus reactivates it causes shingles – a painful blistery rash which follows a band of skin on the body. Pain caused by shingles can be excruciating and debilitating and can sometimes last for many months after the rash disappears. I have often heard people describe shingles pain as one of the worst in their life.

There is no cure for shingles and no way of predicting who may be affected and when shingles will occur. The shingles vaccine however boosts your immunity and reduces the chance of shingles occurring. If shingles does still occur after being vaccinated the shingles episode is less severe, it is shorter in duration and the incidence of persistent pain is markedly reduced.

Zostavax is being provided through the National Immunisation Program for all adults aged 70 years. It is a single injection. For those aged 71-79 the government has also funded the shingles vaccine and it will be available to this age group from now until October 2021. Individuals older than 50, but younger than 71, are able to be vaccinated with the shingles vaccine but it is not funded by the government. These individuals would have to pay for the vaccine themselves (approx. $200).

Trials show Zostavax to be safe and well tolerated. There are only a few people who should not receive it. Next time you see your local GP please take the opportunity to enquire about your suitability for vaccination with Zostavax.

You can book in for your Shingles Vaccine online here or call our clinic on (03) 5823 5446.

21D/ 8025 Goulburn Valley Highway

Kialla, Vic 3631