Shingrix Shingles vaccine will be available to patients over 65 years and First Nations People over 50
The federal health minister recently announced that from the 1st of November 2023, the recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV, sold as Shingrix) will be made available under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for free to patients over 65 years old, First Nations People over 50 and immunocompromised people 18 years and over at high risk of herpes zoster infection. Shingrix will replace the previously funded vaccine Zostavax (which was available for patients over 70 years old). Not being a live vaccine, the new vaccine is safer and longer lasting than the previous one.
1 in 5 people with shingles will develop severe nerve pain known as post-herpetic neuralgia that can last months or even years. In some cases, it may be permanent. The risk of developing shingles increases with age and people aged 65 years and over are at highest risk of complications like post-herpetic neuralgia.
What is shingles?
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection characterized by a painful skin rash that typically appears as a band or strip on one side of the body. It is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person has had chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in the nerve cells for years and then reactivate, leading to the development of shingles. The reactivation is most common during times when the patient’s immune system is less effective for example with age, immune suppression, chronic disease or other infections.
The main symptoms include a burning or tingling sensation followed by the eruption of a painful rash with fluid-filled blisters. While the rash usually clears up within a few weeks, the pain can persist for many months in some cases.
What if I think I have shingles?
Vaccinated or not, if you think you have it, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. Antiviral medications are available and if started early can decrease the severity and duration of the episode. If you think you may have shingles call the HHMP reception team on 9817 2080 and request an urgent appointment by advising them that you may have shingles and need to see the doctor ASAP. Other medications are also available to help with the pain and symptoms of shingles.
What if I do not qualify for the free vaccine?
If you do not qualify for the free vaccine, you can choose to have the vaccine privately. This is especially beneficial for patients from 50 years and over. HHMP carries private stock of the vaccine, the cost is about $300 per injection and 2 injections are needed between 2-6 months apart. A receipt will be given and depending on your level of cover, your private health insurer may refund you part of the cost.
Another option is for you doctor to give you a prescription for the vaccine and you can pick it up from the pharmacy and bring it with you (you will need to be mindful of cold-chain so that the vaccine remains affective). If you have any questions, please call and speak to a HHMP nurse for more information about your specific situation.
How do I book?
Vaccinations are very common at HHMP and occur everyday. At HHMP multiple private, travel and government vaccines are available and our nurses can provide you more specific information if needed.
Making a booking is simple and can be done by clicking the BOOK NOW button at the top of this page or by calling 02 9817 2080.