Shingles vaccines are available only to those in a certain age group which has led to confusion (Picture: Getty Images)
Changes to the age at which patients can be offered the shingles vaccine have caused confusion among retirees.
Over 65-year-olds became eligible in a change to the guidelines back in September. Before then it was only offered to those aged over 70.
However, it appears that not all of those people celebrating their 65th this year are being offered the vaccine.
As reported in the Northern Echo some pensioners are expecting to get jabbed but then finding out that depending on when their birthday falls they might not be eligible.
This means patients who turned 65 before August 31 this year are being turned away.
And they could potentially miss out on the protection from the painful condition right up until they turn 70.
The new vaccine roll-out for shingles started in September(Picture: Getty Images/EyeEm)
John Cumberland, from Rushyford, County Durham, only found out that he was not getting the jab on the very same day he was expecting to receive it.
He said: ‘I was under the impression I was eligible for the jab as they had reduced the age from 70 down to 65.
‘So I rang the doctors and was given an appointment. I was called in for my inoculation only to be very apologetically informed by the nurse I wasn’t eligible.
‘Why? Because my birthday was in June and you’re only eligible if you were 65 since September.
‘I asked when do I qualify [and she said], “when you’re 70 I’m afraid”.’
Kathryn Harris, 67, was also left confused by the rules in place.
She said: ‘I rang up and they said they would have to see if I was eligible.
‘I turned 65 two years ago but you have to turn 65 on September 1 this year or after. There’s a block of five years where those people have to wait til they’re 70.
Shingles facts and symptoms
What is shingles?
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it. It’s caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.
Symptoms of shingles
The main symptom of shingles is pain, followed by a rash that develops into itchy blisters. These look like chickenpox.
Sometimes shingles causes symptoms that develop a few days before the painful rash. This includes symptoms like:
burning, tingling, numbness or itchiness of the skin in the affected area
a feeling of being generally unwell
a high temperature (fever)
The shingles rash usually appears on one side of your body. It develops on the area of skin related to the affected nerve.
New blisters can appear for up to a week. A few days after appearing they become yellowish in colour, flatten and dry out.
Scabs then form where the blisters were, which may leave some slight scarring.
Most people with shingles experience a localised band of pain in the affected area.
The pain may be a constant, dull or burning sensation and its intensity can vary from mild to severe. You may have sharp stabbing pains from time to time, and the affected area of skin will usually be tender.
There’s no cure for shingles. But, there are ways to ease your symptoms until the condition improves.
Shingles symptoms usually get better in 2 to 4 weeks.
Speak to your GP or pharmacist as soon as you get symptoms of shingles. Early treatment may help to reduce the severity of the condition and complications.
Other treatments for shingles
Your GP or pharmacist may recommend painkillers to ease discomfort caused by shingles. This includes:
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen
opioids – used for more severe pain
antidepressants – used for severe pain
anticonvulsants – used for severe pain
Some people with shingles may also be prescribed antiviral tablets.
The shingles vaccine
It’s not always possible to prevent shingles. But, a vaccine called Zostavax can reduce your chances of developing the condition.
If you develop shingles after getting the vaccine, it may not last as long and symptoms may be milder.
All advice and data is taken from NHS inform
‘People younger than us are getting the vaccine.’
But the UK Health Security Agency has defended the phased roll-out as planned by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
A spokesperson said: ‘Based on the evidence, the JCVI recognised there may be more clinical benefit from starting shingles vaccinations at a lower age, with modelling indicating that a greater number of cases of shingles would be prevented with vaccination at 60 years for immunocompetent individuals and 50 years for immunocompromised individuals.
‘The committee advised that the programme should be implemented in stages, starting with those that are 50+ with a weakened immune system and those turning 65 and 70 then eventually moving down to those turning 60.
‘This is a similar pattern to the roll out of the shingles vaccine from 2013.
“This is why the vaccine offer is being expanded to all those turning 65 and 70 and all those 50+ with a weakened immune system.
‘The programme will then run from September 1 2023 to August 31 2028, offering the vaccine to people as they turn 65 and 70 until the offer has been made to all those aged 65 to 70.
‘If anyone is concerned about whether they have a weakened immune system and should get the shingles vaccine before they are eligible they should speak to their GP in the first instance.’
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Pensioners have been turning up expecting to get the shingles jab after a rule change.