Window set to close on free catch-up shingles jab

The shingles vaccine Zostavax has traditionally been free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) only for Australian citizens aged 70. For others, like me, the cost was about $220.

A five-year catch-up program, which began in November 2016 and allowed those aged 71 to 79 to get a free vaccination, expires at the end of the month.

The Health Department says: "Zostavax is NIP-funded for people aged 70 years (with catch-up available for those aged 71-79 years until October 2021)."

If you're aged 71-79, you have 17 more days to get your jab on the NIP. Australians aged 70 can continue to get the vaccine for free.

A new-ish shingles vaccine, Shingrix, is also now available, but not under the NIP. Costs depend on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from.

The Health Department says that 20 to 30 per cent of people will get shingles in their lifetime, most after the age of 50, with older people (particularly those aged over 70) more likely to experience complications.

A spokesperson for the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance said: "Shingles can lead to post-herpetic neuralgia, a chronic neuropathic pain syndrome, and other complications. Older people, particularly those aged over 70 years, are more likely to experience such complications.

"It is important to note that Zostavax is a live vaccine and that there are contraindications for certain groups, particularly immunocompromised people."

Check with your health professional for further information.


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