JAB ALERT Hundreds of thousands of Brits are at risk of ‘blinding illness’ after missing simple jab, doctors warn

Plus, all the signs of shingles you need to know

HUNDREDS of thousands of Brits are at risk of shingles, as experts warn more must be done to get the age group vaccinated.

Last autumn, the NHS rolled out a jab called Shingrix to people 65 and over 70 to protect them from the agonising skin condition.

Many Brits don't know if they are eligible for the lifesaving jab
Many Brits don't know if they are eligible for the lifesaving jabCredit: Getty

But latest figures suggest more than half of 71-year olds in Englad missed it.

This means over 300,000 people (56 per cent of the age group in 2021) are at risk of the disease.

For comparison, the flu jab was taken up by over 80 per cent of over 65s last year.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, a GP and clinical consultant to Patient.info, said many people "don’t realise how serious shingles can be", which might explain why vaccine rates are so low.

She added: "There’s a bit of vaccine fatigue since the Covid pandemic – people wonder if they really need more vaccines.

"Many people are also bit confused over whether they are eligble.

"But the shingles vaccine is very important to get."

From September 2023 anyone turning 65 was also made eligible for the jab, plus those over 50 with a severely weakened immune system - it was previously available to over-70s.

The age group are offereed offered two doses of the vaccine, which are given between six and 12 months apart.

A new review carried out by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has discovered that sending invitations via post to those eligible for the vaccine could boltser uptake.

Shingles is an extremely painful condition which can develop after a chickenpox infection.

One in four people get it in their lifetime, and the complications increase the older you are.

In serious cases, symptoms can include blindness, hearing loss and nerve pain, and - in some instances - shingles can kill.

For many, it's a painful skin rash which develops on one side of the body, usually the chest.

Shingles occurs when the chickenpox virus already in your body is reawakened - usually by illness, stress or getting older. You can't catch it from someone else.

The risks of serious symptoms are particularly high in people who are extremely vulnerable or immuno-suppressed, with conditions such as cancer.

The latest UKHSA vaccine figures showed that in Septmber 2022 just 44 per cent of 71 year olds in England had recieved both doses of the shingles vaccine.

However, overall coverage among those eligble at the time (70-79 years old) was 82 per cent.

The study, published in the journal Vaccine, found that GP practices in Wales that invited patients to get the jab saw the uptake increase by ten per cent.

Check if you have shingles

The first signs of shingles are:

  • A tingling or painful feeling in an area of skin
  • A headache or feeling generally unwell

A rash will usually emerge a few days later.

In rare cases shingles can cause pain without a rash.

Usually you get the shingles rash on your chest and tummy, but it can appear anywhere on your body including on your face, eyes and genitals.

The rash appears as blotches on your skin, on one side of your body only.

A rash on both the left and right of your body is unlikely to be shingles.

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