This month, a shingles vaccine became available in the UK for people who can’t have the live vaccine.
Currently, shingles vaccination is recommended for people aged 70 to 79. However, until recently, the only vaccine available in the UK (Zostavax®) was based on a live but weakened version of varicella zoster virus (the virus that causes shingles). This is not suitable for people with low immune systems because it could cause shingles infection.
From 1 September 2021, a vaccine called Shingrix® is available for people with lowered immunity. This contains a protein made by the varicella zoster virus but it does not contain the virus itself. It cannot cause shingles.
People aged 70 to 79 who may be eligible for Shingrix® vaccine instead of the live vaccine include:
- people with Hodgkin lymphoma or high-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma who are less than 12 months since achieving cure
- people with low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma or chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) who are under follow-up
- people who have had a self (autologous) or donor (allogeneic) stem cell transplant in the last 2 years (or more than 2 years for people who are still immunosuppressed or have graft-versus-host disease)
- people who have had immunosuppressive chemotherapy or radiotherapy in the last 6 months
- people who have had moderate-to-high-dose steroids for more than 10 days in the past month.
Shingrix® is given as an injection into a muscle, usually in your upper arm. You have two doses, at least 8 weeks apart.
If you are eligible for shingles vaccination, you should be contacted by your GP. It is a one-off course of vaccination. You do not have annual boosters.
Published: 7 September 2021