Shingles vaccine now free for nearly 5 million Australians
From 1 November, older Australians will have free access to the best protection against shingles through one of the most comprehensive and widely available vaccination programs in the world.
The Australian Government is committing $826.8 million to provide almost five million people who are at risk of severe disease from shingles with a free Shingrix® vaccine under the National Immunisation Program.
This includes people aged 65 years and over, First Nations people 50 years and over, and people 18 years and over with severely weakened immune systems at high risk of herpes zoster infection.
People who could not have the previously funded vaccine against shingles because of a weakened immune system are able to have Shingrix.
Shingles is caused by reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox and presents as a painful blistering rash on one side of the face or body that lasts 10-15 days.
One in five people with shingles will develop severe nerve pain, known as post-herpetic neuralgia, that can last months or even years. In a few people, it may be permanent.
The likelihood of developing shingles increases with age. People aged 65 years and over have the highest chance of complications like post-herpetic neuralgia.
Shingrix® will replace Zostavax® on the National Immunisation Program from 1 November 2023, following advice from the independent medicines experts at the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). Shingrix® provides around 10 years of protection and usually costs up to $560.
Getting vaccinated is the safest and most effective way to protect yourself from shingles and its complications.
For more information, visit the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website or talk to your doctor.