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NHS Scotland is to offer those aged 70 and over a single vaccination to help protect against shingles following a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

GP practices will invite those eligible for the immunisation and while they can have the vaccine at any time of the year, for many people it will be offered at the same time as the seasonal flu vaccine.

Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said:

“Shingles is a debilitating condition that is more likely to affect people, and to be more severe, as they grow older. For older people, shingles can be a significant cause of illness and pain, with many people developing a very painful and long lasting condition, Post Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN), which is why we are offering a new vaccination programme.

“The new vaccine could prevent many people from getting shingles and reduce the number of people that are hospitalised each year. With shingles, once you’ve had it, there is a chance that you could get it again, this vaccine will also reduce the risk of this happening.

“Our Scottish Immunisation Programme is continuing to bring great benefits to the health of the older population. With around 7,000 cases of shingles occurring in people aged 70 each year in Scotland, it’s hugely important that people take up the invitation to get their vaccine and protect themselves against shingles.”

The introduction of the shingles vaccine to the current schedule is part of a wider programme of changes to the routine immunisation programme in Scotland. These include:

Changes to administering the Men C vaccine (from June 2013)
The introduction of a rotavirus immunisation to all babies in Scotland born on or after May 1, 2013
The extension of the seasonal flu programme - from 1 October 2013 the programme will be extended to all two and three year old children, with pilots which will include some primary school aged children this season, involving a combination of single primary school year cohorts in some NHS Board areas and a proportion of whole primary schools in other health Board areas.

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