Shingles Vaccination – September 2023 update

What is it?

Shingles is a common and often painful skin disease.

Usually you get the shingles rash on your chest and tummy, but it can appear anywhere on your body including on your face, eyes and genitals.

The rash appears as blotches on your skin, on 1 side of your body only. A rash on both the left and right of your body is unlikely to be shingles.


The majority of people in their 70s are eligable for a free vaccination from the NHS to help reduce the chances of infection and/or redudce the severity of symptoms if you do become infected. The shingles vaccine is given as a single injection into the upper arm. Unlike the flu jab, you’ll only need to have the vaccination once and you can have it at any time of the year.

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.

Who can have the shingles vaccine?

Most people are eligible for the shingles vaccine when aged 70 to 79. You can have the shingles vaccination at any time of year.

The shingles vaccine is not available on the NHS to anyone aged 80 and over because it seems to be less effective in this age group.

New eligibility criteria from 1st September 2023

For people turning 65 after 1st September 2023 they will also be eligible for the vaccination after their 65th Birthday. This is a new eligibility criteria has been put in force by NHS England and the Government and unfortunately cannot be overridden by the practice. Anyone already 65 before the 1st September 2023 will NOT be eligible until they turn 70.

This is part of a longer term 10 year plan to reduce the eligibility age down from 70 to 60.

Who shouldn’t have the shingles vaccination?

There are 2 shingles vaccines available in the UK:

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

If Zostavax is not suitable for you, a GP or practice nurse will decide whether to offer you Shingrix instead.

You should not have the shingles vaccine if you’ve had a serious allergic reaction (including an anaphylactic reaction) in the past to a previous dose of the shingles vaccine, or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, or to a previous dose of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.

If you have a weakened immune system a GP or practice nurse will assess which vaccine is suitable for you. Discuss any health concerns with the GP or practice nurse before you have the vaccine.

Zostavax is not suitable for people who have a weakened immune system due to a condition, treatment or medicine.

The shingles vaccine and other vaccines

You can have a shingles vaccine at the same time as most other vaccines. But try to leave 7 days between the shingles vaccine and a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, so that if you have any side effects you’ll know which vaccine they were from.

Get answers to shingles vaccine frequently asked questions (FAQs).