On 19 February 2019, Health Protection Scotland (HPS) issued the annual report on shingles vaccine for the 2017 to 2018 season, the fifth year of this programme. The coverage of the vaccine, in both the routine and catch-up cohorts, is compared with previous years of the programme. The impact of deprivation on uptake of the vaccine is also discussed.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful infection which causes a blistering rash and is caused by reactivation of varicella zoster virus (VZV), the primary infection of which usually occurs in childhood. Shingles, although painful, tends to be self-limiting and lasts from between two to four weeks. However, some people go on to develop a long-lasting neuropathic pain complication, post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). The risk and severity of shingles and related complications increases markedly with age. The vaccine is aimed at reducing the burden of disease associated with shingles and long-term pain complications.
In the 2017 to 2018 programme, the vaccine was offered to those aged 70 years old and to a catch-up cohort of those aged 76 years. Shingles vaccine coverage in those aged 70 years was 44.7%, representing a decrease of 1.8% from the 2016-2017 season. For the catch-up cohort, aged 76 years in 2017-2018, there was a slight increase in coverage compared to the previous catch up cohort in 2016-2017, of 0.6% to 40.4%. Similarly to previous seasons, vaccine coverage in the routine cohort (aged 70) was significantly higher than that of the catch-up cohort (aged 76), with a difference of 4.3%. In addition, there was also an increase in coverage in those who were aged 70 years in the first year of the programme, demonstrating that vaccination of those who remained eligible was taking place opportunistically.