Shingles vaccination declining

Shingles vaccination coverage continues to decline. In September to November 2016 the routine 70-year old vaccination cohort coverage was 33.2% compared to 37.8% in November 2015, 39.8% in November 2014 and 37.9% in November 2013. The catch-up programme also showed a decline in coverage.

Shingles vaccination was introduced four years ago for men and women over 70. A catch-up programme to vaccinate people up to the age of 80 was also introduced. The September to November period is the key period for vaccination with patients being targeted when receiving the flu vaccination.

According to Public Health England (PHE) there are a number of reasons behind the gradual decline in shingles vaccine coverage each year since its introduction. These include difficulties in practices identifying eligible patients during busy flu clinics, a lack of call/re-call to allow mop-up sessions for those who missed immunisations during the flu season, patients receiving flu vaccine at pharmacies or other providers than their GP practice (and therefore not identified for shingles vaccination), and possible lowering of patients’ awareness of the vaccine since its introduction in 2013.

It is important that GPs continue to offer the shingles vaccine to eligible patients from the current and previous cohorts in order to prevent the significant burden of disease associated with shingles among older adults in England, PHE says.

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