Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in nerve cells near the spinal cord and can reactivate later in life leading to shingles. This predominantly affects people who are over 50 years of age. This reactivation often results in a painful rash that typically appears in a single stripe or band on one side of the body, often wrapping around the torso. In more severe cases, the surface of the eye can be affected resulting in 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.
The most common shingles vaccine administered by the NHS is Zostavax, this is approximately 70% effective in preventing shingles in the 50-69 years old age group.
The NEW shingles vaccine, available at Ryders Chemist, is called Shingrix and trials have shown this to be over 97% effective in the same age group. Shingrix is approximately 90% effective in patients over 70 years of age, whereas the effectiveness of Zostavax declines with age.
Shingrix is administered as a two-dose series, with the second dose given 2 to 6 months after the first dose. This dosing schedule helps to ensure a robust and long-lasting immune response. Shingrix has been shown to be highly effective in preventing shingles and its complications, including postherpetic neuralgia.
This service is available for those aged 50 years and over.