Older Australians offered free access to the ‘best protection’ against shingles

Oct 09, 2023
The rollout is expected to benefit nearly 5 million Australians who are at risk of severe shingles-related complications. Source: Getty Images.

Older Australians will soon get top-notch protection against shingles through a world-class vaccination program, and it’s all for free.

Starting November 1st, older Australians are set for a major health boost with the Albanese Government investing a whopping $826.8 million to offer free Shingrix® vaccines under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

The rollout of free Shingrix® vaccines, which typically cost up to $560 per person, is expected to benefit nearly 5 million Australians who are at risk of severe shingles-related complications.

This expansive program will include all individuals aged 65 years and over, First Nations people aged 50 years and over, and immunocompromised individuals aged 18 years and over, particularly those at high risk of herpes zoster infection.

While announcing the vaccination program, Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler said “Older Australians will now have free access to the best protection against shingles through one of the most comprehensive and widely available vaccination programs in the world.”

“Without vaccination, almost one in three Australians will get shingles in their lifetime,” Butler said.

“This investment will ensure nearly five million Australians can get free protection from shingles and the very painful nerve damage that it causes.

“Shingles can be severe, so it’s really important that eligible people talk to their GP or pharmacist about getting the shingles vaccine.”

The initiative was quickly met with resounding approval from the Australian public, many were relieved to be provided access to the crucial vaccine.

Shingles is a painful condition characterised by a blistering rash that often appears on one side of the face or body. This rash can persist for 10 to 15 days, causing significant discomfort and distress. However, the real danger lies in the potential complications that can arise from shingles.

One in every five individuals affected by shingles may develop a debilitating condition known as post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN manifests as severe nerve pain that can persist for months or even years, negatively impacting one’s quality of life. In some unfortunate cases, this excruciating pain may become a permanent fixture in the lives of those afflicted.

The risk of developing shingles and its associated complications, including PHN, increases with age. Individuals aged 65 years and over face the highest risk, making them particularly vulnerable.


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