What is shingles?

Shingles (also known as Herpes-Zoster) is caused by the reactivation of an infection of a nerve and the area of skin around it, resulting in clusters of painful, itchy, fluid-filled blisters. These blisters can burst and turn into sores that  eventually crust over and heal. These blisters usually affect an area on one side of the body, most commonly on the chest. 

The rash usually appears a few days after the initial pain and tingling and should last for around a week. In serious cases the pain can last much longer.


What causes shingles?

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox (Varicella Zoster). When recovering from Chickenpox the majority of the virus is destroyed, however some survives and lies inactive the bodies nervous system. It can then reactivate later in life, usually when your immune system is weakened by increasing age, stress or certain treatments.


How do you catch Shingles? 

Simply, you can't catch shingles. That being said, if you have shingles blisters, the virus in the fluid can infect someone who has not had chickenpox, resulting in them potentially developing chickenpox.


How effective is the Vaccination?

By having the vaccine you will be significantly reducing your chances of developing shingles. However, if you do go on to get shingles, the symptoms may be milder and the illness shorter than if you hadn't had the injection.


Where is the vaccinate given and will I need to have one every year?

As with most vaccines, the injection will be given in your upper arm. Unlike with the flu jab, you do not need to be re-vaccinated every year.


Are there any side effects?

If you do suffer from any side effects, these are usually mild and don't last very long. The most common are as follows:

  • Headaches
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Warmth
  • Bruising at the site of the injection

These occur in at least one in ten people. If the side effects persist for more than a couple of days, please contact your Doctor or Practice Nurse.


Who will get the vaccination?

Patients who are 70 years of age will be offered the Shingled vaccine at the GP Surgery (free of charge)

A catch up vaccination will be offered when you are 78 years old.


Do I need to do anything to get the vaccination?

No, your doctor will invite you in for the vaccination. You can have it at the same time as your flu injection in the autumn (although the shingles vaccine is a available any time of the year).


Is it safe?

Like all licensed vaccines, the shingles injection has been thoroughly tested and meets UK and European safety and licensing requirements. 

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call us here at the Surgery.