The Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, has announced that everyone aged 65 years and over, First Nations people 50 years and over, and immunocompromised people 18 years and over at high risk of herpes zoster infection, will have free access to the best protection against shingles.

Shingles is caused by reactivation of the same 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 some cases, it may be permanent.

The Federal Government is spending $826.8 million of taxpayers’ money to provide a free Shingrix® vaccine under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

 Shingrix® provides around 10 years of protection and usually costs up to $560.

The risk of developing shingles increases with age and people aged 65 years and over are at highest risk of complications like post-herpetic neuralgia.

 Shingrix® will replace Zostavax® on the NIP from 1 November, following advice from the independent medicines experts at the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

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

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