Shingles vaccine available for elderly

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The Public Health Agency is encouraging people aged 70 and 78 to receive the shingles vaccine to protect them against this common and painful skin disease and associated complications.

It will be offered routinely to people who were aged 70 years on or before September 1, 2015 and, as part of a catch-up programme, also to those aged 78 on or before September 1.

It is estimated the vaccination programme will prevent nearly 40 per cent of the hundreds of cases seen every year in Northern Ireland in people over 70 and reduce the severity of the symptoms for those who do develop the condition.

The vaccine is given as a single injection in the upper arm and, unlike the flu vaccine, you only need to have it once.

Side effects are usually quite mild and don not last very long.

Those eligible should contact their GP to arrange to have the vaccine if they haven’t received it already.