Zostavax shingles vaccine

Despite a recent recommendation by the JCVI that people aged 70-79 years should be offered the Zostavax shingles vaccine, the Department of Health has confirmed that due to a shortage in supply, it will only be available privately for the time being.

Adverts have already appeared in the medical press stating that the vaccine is only available for patients over 50 who are able to pay for the vaccine. We have also had some reports that the manufacturer of Zostavax is contacting some practices directly, suggesting that practices contact their patients to offer this privately.
We have written to the DH about our concerns over this arrangement, asking for assurance that the vaccine would be available on the NHS for patients aged 70-79.

Although the DH has confirmed that it intends to run a national vaccination programme for those over 70 years of age, until they have secured a sufficient supply of the Zostavax vaccine and is able to implement the JCVI’s recommendations, our advice to GPs is that it is not recommended that this vaccine be given at the moment.