Vaccines and Immunisations

Mark you diarys for September – Our vaccinations are due for delivery Mid September.

Please remember to book your Flu appointment as soon as possible to ensure adequate cover for the winter months.

Those who fall into flu vaccination categories are people with:
COPD/Asthma, CHD, Stroke, Diabetes, Neurological Disorders (such as MS), Pregnant women, Over 65’s, Immunosuppressant, Children in specific age cohorts … Please contact us to see if you qualify.

Shingles Vaccination Programme

A vaccine to prevent shingles, a common, painful skin disease is available on the NHS to certain people in their 70s.
The shingles vaccine is given as a single injection. Unlike the flu jab, you’ll only need to have the vaccination once and you can have it at any time of the year.
The shingles vaccine is expected to reduce your risk of getting shingles. If you are unlucky enough to go on to have the disease, your symptoms may be milder and the illness shorter.

Shingles can be very painful and uncomfortable. Some people are left with pain lasting for years after the initial rash has healed. And shingles is fatal for around 1 in 1,000 over-70s who develop it.
It’s fine to have the shingles vaccine if you’ve already had shingles. The shingles vaccine works very well in people who have had shingles before and it will boost your immunity against further shingles attacks.

Who can Have the Shingles Vaccination?

From September 1 2015 the shingles vaccine is routinely available to people aged 70 and 78. You become eligible for the vaccine on the first day of September 2015 after you’ve turned 70 or 78 and remain so until the last day of August 2016.

In addition, anyone who was eligible for immunisation in the first two years of the programme but has not yet been vaccinated against shingles remains eligible until their 80th birthday.

This includes:

  • people aged 71 and 72 on 1 September 2015
  • people aged 79

You can have the shingles vaccination at any time of year, though many people will find it convenient to have it at the same time as their annual flu vaccination.

How do I Get the Shingles Vaccine?

You don’t need to do anything. We will invite you to the surgery for the vaccine when you become eligible. If you can’t go to the appointment you’re offered, contact us to rearrange it. It’s important that you don’t leave it too late to have the vaccination, as we may only be able to give it to you before 31 August 2016.

What is the Brand Name of the Shingles Vaccine?

The brand name of the shingles vaccine given in the UK is Zostavax. It can be given at any time of the year.

Read the patient information leaflet (PIL) for Zostavax.

Read more about who can have the shingles vaccine.

How is the Shingles Vaccine Given?

As an injection into the upper arm.

What is the Shingles Vaccine?

The shingles vaccine helps protect against shingles. It’s recommended for all adults turning 65, those aged 70 to 79 and those aged 50 and over with a severely weakened immune system.

What is the Shingles Vaccine for?

Shingles is a common condition that causes a painful rash. It can sometimes lead to serious problems such as long-lasting pain, hearing loss or blindness.

You’re more likely to get shingles, and it’s more likely to cause serious problems, as you get older or if you have a severely weakened immune system.

The Shingles Vaccine helps

Reduce your chances of getting shingles

Reduce your chances of getting serious problems if you do get shingles.

Who should have the Shingles Vaccine?

The shingles vaccine is recommended for some older adults and people with a severely weakened immune system.

How does the Shingles Vaccine Work?

The vaccine contains a weakened chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus). It’s similar, but not identical to, the chickenpox vaccine.

Very occasionally, people have developed a chickenpox-like illness following shingles vaccination (fewer than 1 in 10,000 individuals).

How Long Will the Shingles Vaccine Protect me for?

It’s difficult to be precise, but research suggests the shingles vaccine will protect you for at least five years, probably longer.

How Safe is the Shingles Vaccine?

There is lots of evidence showing that the shingles vaccine is very safe. It’s already been used in several countries, including the US and Canada, and no safety concerns have been raised. The vaccine also has few side effects.

Read more about shingles vaccine side effects.

What is Shingles?

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus) in people who have previously had chickenpox.

It begins with a burning sensation in the skin, followed by a rash of very painful fluid-filled blisters that can then burst and turn into sores before healing. Often an area on just one side of the body is affected, usually the chest but sometimes the head, face and eye.

Read more about the symptoms of shingles.

How is Shingles Spread?

You don’t “catch” shingles – it comes on when there’s a reawakening of chickenpox virus that’s already in your body. The virus can be reactivated because of advancing age, medication, illness or stress and so on.

Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles. It’s estimated that around one in five people who have had chickenpox go on to develop shingles.

Read more about the causes of shingles.

Who’s Most at Risk of Shingles?

People tend to get shingles more often as they get older, especially over the age of  70. And the older you are, the worse it can be. The shingles rash can be extremely painful, such that sufferers can’t even bear the feeling of their clothes touching the affected skin.

The pain of shingles can also linger long after the rash has disappeared, even for many years. This lingering pain is called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).

Men ACWY Vaccine

Young teenagers, sixth formers and ‘fresher’ students going to university for the first time are advised to have a vaccination to prevent meningitis W disease.

The Men ACWY vaccine is given by a single injection into the upper arm and protects against four different causes of meningitis and septicaemia – meningococcal (Men) A, C, W and Y diseases.

There are two Men ACWY vaccines called Nimenrix and Menveo. They are very similar and both work equally well.

Read the patient information leaflet for Nimenrix.

Read the patient information leaflet for Menveo.

At What age Should Teenagers and Young People Have the Vaccine?

The Men ACWY vaccination programme is being delivered to teenagers and first-time students in a carefully planned programme over the next three years.

The priority is to vaccinate all teenagers in school years 9 to 13 before they complete school year 13. This is being done by replacing the routine teenage Men C booster given in school years 9 or 10 with the Men ACWY vaccine, and by a series of catch-up campaigns targeting older teenagers.

With so many pupils to vaccinate, the catch-up programme is being rolled out over several years with first-time university students up to 25 years of age being offered the vaccine first.

How to Get the Men ACWY Vaccine

Students going to university or college for the first time, including overseas and mature students up to the age of 25, should contact their GP to have the Men ACWY vaccine, ideally before the start of or in the first few weeks of the academic year.

Children currently in school year 13 will be offered the Men ACWY vaccine before the end of the school year, most likely during the summer term.

Younger teenagers (school year 9 or 10) will be offered the Men ACWY vaccine in school as part of the routine adolescent schools programme alongside the 3-in-1 teenage booster, and as a direct replacement for the Men C vaccination.

Why Teenagers and Students Should Have the Men ACWY Vaccination

Cases of meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) caused by Men W bacteria are rising, due to a particularly deadly strain.

Older teenagers and university students are at high risk of infection because many of them mix closely with lots of new people, some of whom may unknowingly carry the meningococcal bacteria.

The highest risk of meningitis is in the first year of university, particularly the first few months. As the Men ACWY vaccine is being targeted at those at highest risk, students in their second year or above of university are not included in this vaccination programme.

The Dangers of Men With Disease

Cases of meningitis and septicaemia due to Men W have been increasing in England, from 22 cases in 2009 to 117 in 2014. The increase seems to be speeding up in 2015, caused by an aggressive strain of the bug.

With early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment, most people with meningococcal disease make a full recovery. But it’s fatal in about 1 in 10 cases and can lead to long-term health problems, such as amputation, deafness, epilepsy and learning difficulties.

Men W infections are particularly severe and usually need to be treated in intensive care. They have a higher death rate than the more common Men C and Men B strains.

The Men ACWY vaccine has previously been recommended only for people at increased risk of meningococcal disease, including people with no spleen or a spleen that doesn’t work properly, for Hajj pilgrims, and for travellers to countries with high rates of meningococcal disease, including parts of Africa and Latin America.

Men ACWY Vaccine Effectiveness

The Men ACWY vaccine provides good protection against serious infections caused by four different meningococcal groups (A, C, W and Y) including meningitis and septicaemia.

The vaccine only contains the sugar coating on the surface of the four groups of meningococcal bacteria and works by triggering the body’s immune system to develop antibodies against the sugar coating without causing disease.

Read more about vaccine ingredients.

Men ACWY Vaccine Side Effects

Like all vaccines, the Men ACWY vaccine can cause side effects, but studies suggest they are generally mild and soon settle.

The most common side effects seen in teenagers and young people who receive the vaccine are redness, hardening and itching at the injection site, headache, nausea and fatigue.

Who Should not Have the Men ACWY Vaccine?

You should not have the Men ACWY vaccine if you are allergic to the vaccine or any of its ingredients. You can find out the vaccine ingredients in the patient information leaflets for Nimenrix and Menveo.

You should also check with the doctor or nurse before having the Men ACWY vaccine if you:

  • Have a bleeding problem, such as haemophilia, or bruise easily
  • Have a high temperature
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

How is Meningitis W Spread?

Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis (also called the meningococcus). These bacteria can be divided into 13 different groups, of which five (A, B, C, W and Y) are responsible for nearly all serious meningococcal infections.

The meningococcal bacteria live in the back of the nose and throat in about 1 in 10 of the population without causing any illness. The bacteria is spread from person to person by close prolonged contact with a person carrying the bacteria, such as coughing, kissing and sneezing.

Very occasionally, the meningococcal bacteria can cause serious illness, including meningitis and septicaemia.

Meningococcal infections can strike at any age, but babies, young children and teenagers are especially vulnerable.

Read more about how meningitis bugs are spread.

Men W Cases on the Increase

In England, most meningococcal infections are caused by group B (Men B). Men C, Men W and Men Y are usually responsible for only 10-20% of cases.

Although the total number of meningococcal cases in England has been falling since the early 2000s, Men W infections have increased from only 22 cases in 2009 to 117 in 2014. Currently, Men W alone accounts for almost a quarter of all meningococcal infections in England.

From 2009 to 2012, an average of four people died of meningitis W each year. Most of the people who died were elderly. But during 2013 and 2014, there were 24 deaths from Men W disease including, for the first time in over a decade, babies and toddlers.

Read more about meningitis and septicaemia.

Babies, Older people and Men W vaccine

Only teenagers and young people will be vaccinated against Men W as part of the new vaccination programme. This is so they will be directly protected by the Men ACWY vaccine at a time when they’re at increased risk (entering colleges and universities, where they will be socialising more).

Vaccinating teenagers against Men W should have the added benefit of indirectly protecting other age groups, including unvaccinated babies, children and older people. This is because teenagers are the age group most likely to carry the meningococcal bacteria at the back of their noses.

Vaccinating teenagers will reduce the number of carriers, and therefore spread of the Men W bug, both within their social circles and also to other age groups.

How to spot meningitis and septicaemia

Men W disease, like all meningococcal infections, can come on suddenly and progress quickly.

All meningococcal infections can cause meningitis and septicaemia, but Men W can also cause other illnesses, such as pneumonia and joint infections (septic arthritis).

Early symptoms of meningococcal disease include:

  • headache
  • vomiting
  • muscle pain
  • fever
  • cold hands and feet

A rash of tiny red pinpricks may also develop once septicaemia has set in. You can tell this is a meningitis rash if it doesn’t fade under pressure – for instance, when gently pressing a glass against it (the “glass test”).

If you, or a child or adult you know, has these symptoms, seek urgent medical advice. Don’t wait for a rash to develop. Early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics are vital.

Here’s more info on the symptoms of meningitis and the treatment of meningitis.

Other Meningitis Vaccines

The Men C vaccine is offered as part of the NHS vaccination programme to all babies aged 2 and 12 months old.

From September 2015, Men B vaccine (Bexsero) will be offered as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme, to all babies aged 2, 4 and 12 months old.