Immunisations - vaccines


Shingles vaccine

The shingles vaccine helps protect against shingles, a common, painful skin disease. It's recommended for people at higher risk from shingles, including all adults turning 65, those aged 70 to 79 and those aged 50 and over with a severely weakened immune system.

Who should have the shingles vaccine

The shingles vaccine is recommended for some older adults and people with a severely weakened immune system.


People who turn 65 on or after 1 September 2023

From 1 September 2023, you're eligible for the shingles vaccine when you turn 65.

You'll be offered 2 doses of the vaccine. These are given between 6 and 12 months apart.

Your GP should contact you to make an appointment to have your shingles vaccine. Contact your GP surgery if you think you're eligible for the shingles vaccine and you've not been contacted about it.

You'll remain eligible until your 80th birthday.


If you turned 65 before 1 September 2023, you'll be eligible for the shingles vaccine when you turn 70.


People aged 70 to 79

Everyone aged 70 to 79 is eligible for the shingles vaccine.

Depending on the type of vaccine you have, you'll have either 1 dose or 2 doses (given between 6 and 12 months apart).

Contact your GP surgery if you missed your vaccine. You're eligible up until your 80th birthday.


People aged 50 and over with a severely weakened immune system

You're eligible for the shingles vaccine if you're aged 50 or over and you're at higher risk from shingles because you have a severely weakened immune system.

This includes:

  • some people with blood cancer (such as leukaemia or lymphoma)
  • some people with HIV or AIDS
  • some people who've recently had a stem cell transplant, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or an organ transplant
  • people taking certain medicines that severely weaken the immune system

You'll be given 2 doses of the shingles vaccine. These are given between 8 weeks and 6 months apart.

Ask your GP or care team if you're not sure if you're eligible for the shingles vaccine.



Shingles can be very painful and uncomfortable. Some people are left with pain lasting for years after the initial rash has healed. Shingles can also be fatal for around 1 in 1,000 over-70s who develop it.

It's fine to have the shingles vaccine if you've already had shingles. The shingles vaccine works very well in people who have had shingles before, and it will boost your immunity against further shingles attacks. Your GP will tell you how long to wait after you recover from shingles before having the shingles vaccine. This may be up to 1 year.


Who cannot have the shingles vaccine

Most people who are eligible for the shingles vaccine can have it.

You only cannot have the vaccine if you've had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the vaccine, or an ingredient in the vaccine.

One of the shingles vaccines (called Zostavax) contains a weakened version of the virus that causes shingles. This vaccine is not suitable if you have a severely weakened immune system so you'll be given a different one (called Shingrix) instead.


Getting vaccinated if you're unwell

If you have a high temperature or feel too unwell to do your normal activities, wait until you're feeling better before having the vaccine.


How do I get the shingles vaccine?

Once you become eligible for shingles vaccination a GP or practice nurse will offer you the vaccine when you attend the surgery for general reasons or you may receive a text message inviting you to have one.

If you are worried that you may miss out on the shingles vaccination, call us on 01798 342 248 to arrange an appointment.

Appointment will be booked with a nurse and takes about 10 minutes.


What is the brand name of the shingles vaccine?

There are 2 shingles vaccines used in the UK:

  • Zostavax, a live vaccine given as 1 dose
  • Shingrix, a non-live vaccine given as 2 doses, 2 months apart

You can read more about the shingles vaccines in the patient information leaflets:



How long will the shingles vaccine protect me for?

It's difficult to be precise, but research suggests the shingles vaccine will protect you for at least 5 years, probably longer.


What is shingles?

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus) in people who have previously had chickenpox.

It begins with a burning sensation in the skin, followed by a rash of very painful fluid-filled blisters that can then burst and turn into sores before healing. Often an area on just one side of the body is affected, usually the chest but sometimes the head, face and eye.

Read more about the symptoms of shingles.

How is shingles spread?

You do not "catch" shingles – it comes on when there's a reawakening of chickenpox virus that's already in your body. The virus can be reactivated because of a range of issues, including advancing age, medicine, illness or stress.

Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles. It's estimated that around 1 in 5 people who have had chickenpox go on to develop shingles.

Read more about the causes of shingles.

Who's most at risk of shingles?

People tend to get shingles more often as they get older, especially over the age of 70. And the older you are, the worse it can be. The shingles rash can be extremely painful, such that sufferers cannot even bear the feeling of their clothes touching the affected skin.

The pain of shingles can also linger long after the rash has disappeared, even for many years. This lingering pain is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).

Read more about vaccination against shingles on GOV.UK

Read the answers to shingles vaccine frequently asked questions (FAQs).


(Info from Shingles vaccine overview - NHS (