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Free shingles jab offered to older East Lancashire residents
3:30pm Wednesday 4th September 2013 in News
PEOPLE aged 70 and 79 will be offered a vaccine against shingles from this week.
The government-led vaccination programme, which has been welcomed by older people’s groups in Lancashire, aims to cut the number of pensioners affected by the viral infection by 40 per cent.
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it, and can cause a painful rash.
Jabs will be administered by doctors’ surgeries, and pensioners aged 70 and 79 should receive a letter in the post about the scheme.
Over the next few years the programme will expand to include more of the 70-to-79 age group, until it is fully covered. After that, the jab should only need to be offered to people as they reach their 70th birthdays.
Some have been paying between £150 and £200 to get the jab privately, and both Brian Todd, chairman of Blackburn with Darwen Older People’s Forum, and Wynne Barnes, of Burnley and Padiham Over 50s Forum, have welcomed the programme.
Health minister Lord Howe said: “Shingles can be a nasty disease for older people and can lead to long-term health problems for around 14,000 people a year.
“This new vaccine can prevent some of the most serious cases, giving people the chance to live without the discomfort and pain that shingles causes.”
The herpes varicella-zoster virus also causes chickenpox, and though most people have chickenpox in childhood the virus remains dormant in the nervous system, and can be reactivated later in life and cause shingles.
The infection usually affects an area on the side of the body and causes a painful rash which develops into itchy blisters. There is no cure but medicines are available to treat the pain.
It is most common in people who are over 50.
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