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Free shingles vaccine for older Australians


Starting 1 November, older Australians will have free access to Shingrix, a new shingles vaccine, through one of the world’s most comprehensive vaccination initiatives.

The Albanese Government is investing $826.8 million in the program, which will provide nearly 5 million at-risk individuals with the shingles vaccine at no cost. This includes all Australians aged 65+, First Nations people aged 50+, and immunocompromised adults aged 18+ at high risk of herpes zoster infection.

Usually costing up to $560, Shingrix will now be available for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP). It protects against shingles for around 10 years.

Shingles is a painful rash caused by the same virus behind chickenpox and presents as a painful blistering rash on one side of the face or body that lasts 10-15 days.. 1 in 5 people with shingles develop severe, lingering nerve pain known as post-herpetic neuralgia.

The risk rises with age, with adults 65+ facing the greatest complications.

“Without vaccination, almost one in three Australians will get shingles in their lifetime,” said Health Minister Mark Butler. “This investment will ensure nearly five million Australians can get free protection from shingles and the very painful nerve damage that it causes.”

Shingrix is set to replace the current Zostavax shingles vaccine on the NIP from 1 November, following recommendations from expert pharmaceutical and immunisation advisory groups.

By making this highly effective shingles vaccine free and widely accessible, the government aims to safeguard the health of seniors and at-risk groups. Decreasing shingles cases will alleviate individual suffering while reducing healthcare system burdens.

Butler urges eligible Australians to discuss shingles vaccination with their doctor or pharmacist and take advantage of this free protection against a dangerous, debilitating disease.

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

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.


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