NHS makes changes to two vaccination programmes

From 1st September, 900,000 people became eligible for a shingles vaccination and at the same time, the HPV vaccine moved to a single dose for under 25s.

The changes come following the latest advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The shingles vaccine has been expanded to cover more people from a younger age and will now cover all those turning 65 and 70 from 1 September 2023 and those aged 50 and over who have a severely weakened immune system. Those aged 70-79 remain eligible for the vaccine.

In the first five years after a shingles vaccine was introduced in England in 2013, there were 45,000 fewer GP consultations and 1,840 fewer hospitalisations for shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia.

Changes have also been made to the HPV vaccine programme, with under 25s now only needed one dose instead of two. The JCVI has recommended that one dose is just as effective at preventing HPV-related cancers as two doses in those aged under 25. One dose of the vaccine will now be offered to those in year 8 via the school aged immunisation service and those under 25 that have already received one dose will now be considered fully vaccinated.

Studies have suggested that the NHS HPV vaccination programme has prevented around 450 cancers and 17,200 pre-cancers.

Steve Russell, national director of vaccinations and screening at NHS England, said: “Making these vital changes to two life-saving NHS vaccination programmes will help protect millions of people, prevent disease, and ultimately save lives.

“These measures have the backing of the country’s leading medical experts who continually look for ways to update our programmes and ensure those who need it are offered the best protection against serious illnesses.

“If you are eligible and have a chance to receive one of these vaccines, please do not ignore it – these vaccines continue to save lives so please take up the opportunity when you can”.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Shingles is an extremely painful condition and complications can be long-lasting. Older people and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable so I’d encourage all those newly eligible from today to come forward.

“With the HPV vaccine, a move to one dose for most of those eligible will make it quicker and easier to get protected. Latest evidence shows that one dose provides just as robust protection as two, so young people can be confident they are protected against the risks, including cancers, that the HPV virus poses”.

Image by Memed_Nurrohmad from Pixabay

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