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Shingles Vaccination


Herpes-zoster (Shingles) is a painful blistering rash caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus – the same virus that causes chickenpox. The shingles rash occurs when the dormant chickenpox virus is reactivated in the nerve tissue, causing inflammation of the nerves. Sometimes pain in the affected region can be severe and prolonged. When it lasts more than 3 months it is called post herpetic neuralgia (PHN). Other less common complications may include scarring, skin infections, loss of vision or hearing, pneumonia, or neurological complications.

What causes shingles

Once you have had chickenpox, the virus can stay in your nervous system for many years. For reasons that are not fully understood, the virus may become active again and give you shingles. Shingles can spread through direct contact with an uncovered rash. 1 in 3 people will develop shingles in their lifetime. As a person gets older, the risk of getting shingles and PHN increases.

Symptoms of shingles

Initial symptoms of shingles can include headache, fever, flu like symptoms and malaise (general feeling of uneasiness). A stinging or burning sensation may appear on the affected area before the appearance of the skin rash (normally within 1-2 days of the initial symptoms).

The rash is commonly on the trunk or body but can also appear on the face or other parts of the body and can be quite painful, causing a tingling or burning sensation. It creates a stripe or belt like pattern on the affected area and is usually limited to one side of the body. The rash forms small blisters which fill with a liquid and burst before the skin crust over and heals.

Although most people recover within a few weeks, some go on to develop chronic nerve pain called post herpetic neuralgia. This may be severe and can sometimes go on for months.

Prevention of shingles

  • Shingles is a vaccine preventable disease.
  • Even if you have already had shingles, the vaccine can prevent recurrent shingles.
  • To have the shingles vaccination book an Immunisation Clinic appointment at Glebe Hill Family Practice or GHFP Nurture.

National Shingles Vaccination Program

  • From 1 November 2023, the shingles vaccine Shingrix® replaced Zostavax® on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) schedule for the prevention of shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia. A 2-dose course of Shingrix® is governtment-funded for eligible people most at risk of complications from shingles:
    • people aged 65 years and older
    • First Nations people aged 50 years and older
    • immunocompromised people aged 18 years and older with the following medical conditions:
      • haemopoietic stem cell transplant
      • solid organ transplant
      • haematological malignancy
      • advanced or untreated HIV.
  • Unlike Zostavax®, Shingrix® does not contain any live virus so it can be given to people aged 18 years and over who are immunocompromised.
  • People who are eligible for Shingrix® on the NIP may book an appointment in one of our Immunisation Clinics (Tuesdays and Fridays at Glebe Hill Family Practice, Wednesdays at GHFP Nurture).
  • If you would like to have the shingles vaccine but are not eligible for a National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccine please make an appointment to discuss it with your GP. Shingles vaccine can be provided privately with a prescription for purchase at a pharmacy.