Almost a million more people in England are now eligible for a shingles vaccination as part of an expansion which aims to protect more people at an earlier age.
Also from this month, under 25s will now only need one dose of the HPV vaccine, instead of two.
The updates from NHS England (NHSE), released on Friday, follow latest advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and aim to make it easier for people to get protected.
Under the changes, those newly eligible for a shingles vaccine include all those turning 65 and 70 as of 1 September 2023, as well as those aged 50 and over who have a ‘severely weakened’ immune system. Those aged 70-79 remain eligible for the vaccine.
NHSE said those eligible would be invited to book an appointment with their GP surgery.
Analysis from NHSE suggested that in the first five years after the shingles vaccine was introduced in the country in 2013, there were 45,000 fewer GP consultations and 1,840 fewer hospitalisations for shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia.
Meanwhile, NHSE has also now moved to a single dose HPV vaccination programme for those under 25.
It comes after expert advice from the JCVI which said one dose was just as effective at preventing HPV-related cancers as two doses in under 25s.
And NHSE said the change aimed to ‘make it more convenient for people to ensure they are protected and up to date with their vaccinations’.
As of 1 September, one dose of the HPV vaccine will be offered to those aged 12 or 13 via the school-aged immunisation service.
And those under 25 who have already received one dose of the vaccine by September 2023 will now be considered ‘fully vaccinated’, while those who have missed out on their one dose HPV vaccine can catch up until their 25th birthday via their GP surgery.
NHSE noted that one dose of the HPV vaccine will also be offered to eligible gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men that are aged under 25 through sexual health clinics.
Meanwhile, eligible gay and bisexual men aged 25 to 45 years will continue to receive two doses of the vaccine and those who are immunosuppressed or known to be HIV-positive will continue to receive three doses.
According to NHSE, the NHS HPV vaccination programme has ‘helped to drastically reduce HPV infections and the rate of cervical cancer’.
Steve Russell, national director of vaccinations and screening at NHS England, said: ‘Making these vital changes to two life-saving NHS vaccination programmes will help protect millions of people, prevent disease, and ultimately save lives.
‘These measures have the backing of the country’s leading medical experts who continually look for ways to update our programmes and ensure those who need it are offered the best protection against serious illnesses.’