Take advantage of free vaccine program
IF YOU are aged 70 and over you are eligible for the free shingles vaccine to protect you against the virus that can cause severe pain and long-lasting complications.
Health authorities warn one in three Australians will develop shingles, and the risk of it and of neurological complications increases gets greater as you get older.
Shingles is the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. It causes a painful localised blistering rash. The pain be severe and for some people, prolonged. If it lasts more than three months it is called post herpetic neuralgia.
Other complications from shingles may be scarring, skin infections, loss of vision or hearing, pneumonia and/or neurological complications.
For anyone who has had shingles already, they should talk to their GP. The health authorities still recommend the vaccine, but they should wait at least a year between an episode of shingles and having the vaccine.
The free, single-dose vaccination program is open to Australians aged 70 and over with a five‑year catch-up program for people aged 71 to 79, until 31 October 2021. It is available from GPs.
For those people who are not yet eligible for a free vaccination, they can purchase the vaccine with a prescription from their GP or vaccination provider.
For more information on the program, talk to your GP.
To find out more about shingles including what causes it and what are the best treatments, go to www.healthdirect.gov.au/shingles.