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Eligibility extended for shingles vaccination in England

Eligibility extended for shingles vaccination in England

The shingles vaccination programme in England is changing from September, both on type of vaccine and who is eligible, with priority for over-50s who are immunocompromised.

A letter to GPs, local medical committees and NHS leaders said the programme will be moving to two doses of non-live shingles vaccine Shingrix instead of the one-dose Zostavax for everyone.

Over a phased 10-year period, eligibility for everyone will move from age 70 to 60 years, based on recommendations in 2019 by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

In phase one, starting on 1 September, Shingrix will be offered to those turning 70 and 65 years.

From 2028 the vaccine will be offered to those turning 65 and 60, the letter from NHS England and the UK Health Security Agency set out.

In addition, immunocompromised individuals will now be eligible from the age of 50 years for vaccination with Shingrix.

‘Immunocompromised individuals represent the highest priority for vaccination given their risk of severe disease, and therefore the programme aims to catch up all immunocompromised individuals aged 50 years and over in the first year of the programme implementation,’ the letter said.

The dosing interval is different from the routine and immunocompromised cohorts who can be given their second dose six to 12 months after the first compared with 8 weeks to six months for other patients.

Patients previously eligible for Zostavax who are under 80 years of age, should continue to be offered that vaccine until central stocks run out at, the letter said.

Any patient who has already received the previous one-dose live vaccine does not need to be revaccinated, officials said.

The JCVI recommended the changes in February 2019 based on modelling on cost-effectiveness, but noted it should be implemented in stages and would require planning to ensure capacity in the system.

At the time they also recommended what was then Public Health England set up a working group to consider the definition of immunocompromised for vaccination.

The changes had already been noted in the 2023/24 GP contract.

Practices will be required to undertake call and recall for patients as they become eligible for the programme from September 2023 including the newly eligible immunocompromised patients aged 50 to 69 years with a payment of £10.06 per dose administered.

A version of this article first appeared in Pulse.

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