Who can have the shingles vaccine?

Anyone aged 70 can have the shingles vaccine on the NHS. You become eligible for the vaccine from the first day of September after your 70th birthday for the following year.

From September 1 2015, the shingles vaccine will be offered routinely to people aged 70 and, as a catch up, to those aged 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

Anyone aged 80 and over is unsuitable to have the shingles vaccination on the NHS because it seems to be less effective in this age group.

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.


Is there anyone who should not have the shingles vaccination?

You should not have the shingles vaccine if you:

  • have a weakened immune system (for example, because of cancer treatment, if you take steroid tablets or if you've had an organ transplant – your doctor will advise whether this applies to you)
  • you've had a serious allergic reaction (including an anaphylactic reaction) to a previous dose of any of the substances in the vaccine, such as neomycin and gelatin – again, your GP can advise you if this applies to you
  • you've had a serious allergic reaction (including an anaphylactic reaction) to a previous dose of the chickenpox vaccine
  • have an untreated TB infection  

The shingles vaccine and other vaccines

It's safe and may be more convenient for you to have the shingles vaccine at the same time as your flu vaccine in the autumn.

Get answers to some of the most common questions people ask about the shingles vaccine.








Page last reviewed: 28/07/2015

Next review due: 28/07/2017


How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 113 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating


The 28 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Obani said on 06 October 2015

Like others who have left similar comments concerning their struggle to get the vaccine and are also suffering Shingles, I am sad that it's not available to other clearly needy people. I have today given up and booked an appointment to have it done privately at a cost of £185. It's outrageous but I can't carry on with the problem and being fobbed off with having to wait until I am 70 which is six years away.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

black_bob said on 30 September 2015

I find it incongruous that the age restrictions enable 79, 80 year olds and 70,71 and 72 year olds when, allegedly, the vaccination is less effective at the upper age cohort. Get a grip and increase the roll out to the earlier seventies please.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

DavidGibbs said on 29 July 2015

I am very upset that I continue to be excluded from the shingles vaccination programme through the nonsensical manner in which age selections are made. If as the NHS says susceptibility gets worse through the 70s why am I at 76 excluded when 70 and 71 year olds are eligible.
This programme has not been thought through and is unnecessarily unfair to those caught in the middle.
Please complete the programme.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Dezmund said on 04 July 2015

It seems the reason only people of 70, 78 and 79 are eligible for this vaccine is that it is a trial. It says on the GSK website - "Additional trials to evaluate the ability of HZ/su to prevent shingles are underway in people aged 70 and older and in immunocompromised people."

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 06 January 2015

Dear Minky2,

You are correct that you are eligible for the shingles vaccination. It's available to everyone from the first day of September after their 70th birthday.

Hope that helps,

Kathryn Bingham, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Earthman said on 25 November 2014

The 70+ to 77 group of people who have been deliberately disqualified from having a shingles vaccination due to age would appreciate a clinical statement on this.

Why they are LESS AT RISK than the those permitted to have the vaccine ?

It would appear it is a financial barrier. A narrative addressing this ban on this WEB as soon as possible would help many worried, understand the full NHS policy on Shingles!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Minky2 said on 19 November 2014

I turned 70 last March so thought I would be allowed the shingles vaccine this year. However, the GP surgery says that the age was changed in September to 71. Is this correct? All the literature I've seen says that if you were 70 on 1st Sept 2014 you are eligible for vaccination.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 21 September 2014

User 809092:

You will become eligible for the shingles vaccine on 1st September 2015.

Best wishes, Kathryn Bingham, Editor at NHS Choices

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

User809092 said on 16 September 2014

I will be78 in nov 2014 ,when will I be eligible for free nhs shingle vaccination

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 03 June 2014

Dear Andrea70,

Sorry to hear of your recurrent shingles. It's understandable that this situation would get you down!

I'm afraid, however, the shingles vaccine would be unlikely to help you.

The vaccine prevents or reduces the severity of shingles by boosting the immune system in a similar way to natural infection. This means it's unlikely to help someone like you who has frequent recurrent shingles. It's also worth noting that the shingles vaccine is not licensed for the treatment of shingles or for use in people under the age of 50, and your doctor would need to consider these points.

Discuss your concerns in detail with your GP, who may consider requesting further specialist advice, for example from your local immunology or infectious diseases department.

Hope this helps,
Kathryn Bingham, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Andrea70 said on 17 May 2014

Hello, just wondering if you can help, I'm 43 and have had shingles over 40 times since I was 11yrs old, as a child I had chicken pox 3 times! It took lots of doctors appointments and eventually skin specialists to diagnose me as I was so young to get it. And no one believed the pain I was in.
Stress always brings on an attack and now later in life the sun activates it too.. Which is very frustrating!
I always get it on my right shoulder and just above my right bust. I used to use a paint called herpid but apparently they no longer manufacture it. Creams for some reason spread it and it doesn't heal. I also had poweder many years ago and that helped, I've had the tablets and they don't do anything!
I tolerate the pain, sometimes I can't drive as it affects my right arm and down my neck and I use a sling to help lesson the Movement.
Would and could the vaccination help me? And could I get it on the nhs given my history? I really need a solution as it gets me down :-( I'm on holiday and just got an attack again! 2nd time in 3 months... I have to have time off work too... Would love to know what you think. Many thanks Andrea

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 15 May 2014

Dear RevJCC,
I'm sorry your surgery refused your shingles vaccination. You are eligible age-wise and there seems no good reason not to give it.
Please go back to your GP and requests the vaccination again. You could highlight the PHE advice on who is eligible.
You could even print out and take the following leaflet with you:
Hope this helps,
Kathryn Bingham, NHS Choices editor

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

RevJCC said on 13 May 2014

I was 70 on 1 September 2013 but am still unable to get the Shingles vaccine on the NHS. My surgery tells me that it is by invitation only and not everyone of the qualifying age will receive it. This makes nonsense of telling me that I "qualify".

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

judierob said on 22 April 2014

What a ridiculous system. Half of the 70 and 79 year old recipients of the vaccine have never had it and probably would not get it anyway. I have had it four times and still feel the pain from the last outbreak. I am losing time from work and so paying less tax. I can't have the vaccine, how ridiculous is that I have to keep getting it for another 6 years, I bet the goal posts will have moved again by then.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

LMN4 said on 27 January 2014

I asked my GP if I could have the shingles vaccine. He said not until I am 79. I said I might be dead by then. He said "well in that case you won't need it will you?"!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Annie N said on 18 January 2014

Reading this article really makes me sad. I have older brothers and sisters living in the U.K. who should be receiving this vaccine. To not offer the vaccine to those that really need it is terrible. By vaccinating our older community we are saving the NHS thousands of pounds when they would not have to treat these paients when they get shingles. I also read that this vaccine is not available privately...that is ludicrous. My husband is 67 and I am 62. We both recently had our shingle shots here in the USA (I am a British citizen) and it is available for everyone to have over 60. We are encouraged to get this vaccine along with the flu shot yearly and the pneumonia shot (over 60). Perhaps if our government were to offer the shingles shots privately they could use some of the money charged towards supplying those on the NHS the same vaccine. I only hope and pray that our government rethinks this ludicrous decision and makes this vaccine available to all of those over 60.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

beecrafty said on 07 January 2014

When I saw my doctor for my blood pressure check I asked about the shingles vaccine because I was 79 years old. She told me to make an appointment for the injection and my flu jab.I was amazed when the receptionist told me I couldn't have the shingles vaccine because I was born in October 1934 and was 3 weeks over the limit. I was quite upset about this as my younger brother had recently had a nasty attack of shingles. It will cost a lot more for the NHS if I have a serious attack of shingles than an injection would.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

mightymary said on 06 January 2014

I first found out about the Zostavex vaccine 4 years ago when researching for an OU course. I immediately called my doctor who knew nothing about it. After some of her own research she told me it was available privately or by waiting until it was rolled out by the NHS. I have asked annually and was told it would be rolled out in September 2013.
Imagine my surprise when I was told that at 71 I was too old or not old enough. I now find that the drug company no longer supplies private clinics. Surely it can't be right for a tranche of vulnerable 71-78 year olds to be left unprotected?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

carpe deum said on 01 January 2014

According to radio 4 discussion, those between 71 - 79 ARE fully entitled to shingles vaccination. I missed the talk. Did anyone hear it. I am 73 and really dread having shingles again. My GP says she cannot give it privately. I feel we are being deprived at a vulnerable age, and am very angry at the ridiculous restrictions.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

claude unlucky said on 30 December 2013

I am not happy with the "birth day lottery" regarding Shingles
Vaccination. however I know that moaning on about will make no difference to the powers that be. So wouldn't it be nice, if it were made easy for those of us that care about our health, to spend our winter heating allowance on the vaccine at our N.H.S Practice. As it is obvious to me that the system is concerned with the cost ,rather than prevention.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Diana1942 said on 17 November 2013

This is just another case of rationing health care due to the impossibility of trying to provide NHS coverage to the UK with such savage cuts in process. It is insulting to tell us such rubbish as "being impractical" - we are older not stupid! I am on Pension Credit but I am going to pay (£160approx) to get mine. I need not to get shingles as I look after my small grandson and am prone to catch all his toddler stuff. All my friends in Canada have been vaccinated - they were shocked I had not been offered the vaccination.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

unhopeful said on 12 November 2013

From unhopeful, re shingles shambolic age restrictions. I have seen a media report which seems to offer a terrible reason for the 70/79 ages gaff.. The media report states that the leaflets should have been printed covering the ages between 70 & 79, but decided not to correct this printing error when it came to light so hence the ridiculous in between ages losing out in trying to prevent them suffering this condition a second time, I have just been to the GP & she was not aware of the mistake.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

david newcastle said on 04 November 2013

As your previous correspondents, I too have just missed the deadline, in my case by 4 months. I am not too concerned because my immune system, although generally quite good, has a problem differentiating between these double stranded DNA viruses. I try to produce more than average natural acyclovir, to deal with many varieties of EBV, and i cannot deploy the resourses to the sealing of the replication fork of the genome of the three alphas, including the zoster. I cannot manufacture antibodies for this group

I am not sure that I really need or want this jab, but having scrapped the LCP, the system needs to target us as a age group to withdraw treatment to save costs. the cost savings must be more than the current press story of £250M to save 200 lives.

I believe there will emerge a hidden agenda, but the truth may well take a decade to emerge. In the meantime I have declared my house a Zoster-free zone.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Iagoo said on 03 November 2013

What is impractical about giving a shingles injection at the same time as a flu injection to everyone over 70?
What is the point of making 79 year-olds eligible when we are told that at 80 it is no longer necessary?
This is exactly the kind of illogical diktat that gives the NHS its bad name and drives those intelligent workers within it to despair .

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Zylpha said on 26 October 2013

This is a very unfair practice.

My birthday is on September 1st and I reached 74 on that date this year, so I do not qualify for the shingles vaccine for another 5 years.

My husband, a cancer patient, is 72 and so does not qualify for the vacccine for another 7 years.

We both feel that we are being discrimated against and our health compromised by this decision. Why should some people be able to receive this vaccine and others not? If it is a matter of inadequate supply it would have been better to wait until there is enough vaccine for everyone before releasing it.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Tony AAEE said on 12 October 2013

I am 75.
I was conscripted into forced labour (national Service) which was two years behind barbed wire and service discipline but the military covenant does not apply.
I have had shingles twice: once so serious I had to attend not only one hospital but three others. My plight was such that the consultant was most concerned.
One side of my face was a mess and now I have post-herpetic pain and scarring coupled with a dropped and numb cheek.
I suffered - it was only the strong support of my wife that kept me going.
The first time the shingles was on my chest.
Both episodes were hell.
My practice will not in spite of two requests provide a vaccination because of the government's policy to discriminate.
I dread being attacked again.
What can I do?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

hut27 said on 24 September 2013

I am 76 yrs old, too old or too young for shingles vaccine according to the number cruncher who dreamed up this utterly stupid eligible group of 70&79 yr olds.
I have had Shingles 3 times since Easter but can' be vaccinated.
The whole reason is cost ,not as my GP said "shortage of vaccine". as I have been told if I pay £240 I can have it so there's no shortage is there.
The take up of anything is never 100% so why can' I have one that is not being used?.
Why 79yr old as the NHS website says 80yr old and your'e not likely to get it anyway.
The Sunday Express Magazine's Dr Rosemary Leonard in her health advice feature said all 70 TO 79yr olds are offered the Shingles Vaccine and advised all to have it.
NHS England advised me to speak to Practice Manager not my GP at my local Health Centre Practice as she could sanction it for me but not my GP. Only trouble is she wont speak to me after 'phoning her 5 times with no return call, she got my GP to ring me. He says he would give it to me but he's not allowed to. So here I am gone full circle.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

User805012 said on 19 September 2013

Seems unfair hat if you happened to be born before certain dates but within the year that you do not have another chance to receive this vaccine until you are 79. 8 years is a long time and anything can happen. Whoever chose September as the date to start. Beginning at the start of the year would have caught all people born in those years.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable


Find out about shingles, a painful condition caused by the chickenpox virus

Shingles vaccination

An NHS vaccine to prevent shingles is available for people in their 70s

The flu jab

Flu is highly infectious – but the annual flu jab can help prevent it