Health chiefs are reminding eligible older people to make sure they get their shingles vaccine.

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against the debilitating illness, and from September 2013, the vaccine has been offered routinely free to people aged 70.

There is also an ongoing catch up programme to ensure everyone is offered the vaccine before their 80th birthday. It means the vaccine is also currently available to people who are now aged 79 or who turned 71, 72, 73 or 78 on or after 1 September, 2015.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, leading the shingles vaccine programme at Public Health England said: "The shingles vaccine is the best way to protect against this debilitating illness and also significantly reduces the incidence of post herpetic neuralgia - persistent nerve pain that can occur at the site of a previous attack of shingles.

"The vaccine is available from your GP and anyone who missed out on the vaccine in the first 2 years of the programme continues to remain eligible until their 80th birthday."

Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health said: "We strongly recommend getting vaccinated to prevent this painful condition. You only need to be vaccinated once and it's important that you get it while you're the right age, so please check with your GP to see if you, or one of your family, are eligible."

Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox in children. The vaccine reduces the risk and severity of shingles in those most likely to be affected by the illness. The vaccine is not offered to people aged 80 or over due to the reducing effectiveness of the vaccine as age increases.

  • released: Thursday 7 July, 2016