The number of 70 year olds in England routinely vaccinated against shingles in 2014/15 dropped by 3% compared with the previous 12 months, figures released by Public Health England (PHE) reveal.
PHE says that provisional figures for the first three months of the latest 2015/16 national immunisation programme also indicate that numbers are lower compared with the same time last winter.
PHE is urging GPs to continue to offer the shingles vaccine to eligible patients (ie those aged 70 years and 78 years as of 1 September 2015) when they are called to have their annual influenza vaccination.
In an immunisation update published in December 2015, PHE says: “It is important to ensure that all eligible adults who can benefit from the [shingles] vaccine do not miss out, particularly over the coming weeks while immunisation opportunities coincide with the continued delivery of the influenza vaccination programme.”
The national shingles immunisation programme was introduced in England in 2013/14 and is targeting 69 to 80 year olds in a rolling scheme.
The latest drop in uptake coincides with the move to allow community pharmacists in England to offer the flu vaccination from September 2015 as an advanced service under their national contract, prompting reports of criticism among GPs
 Price C. Fall in shingles vaccinations ‘could be due to pharmacy flu scheme’. Pulse. 8 January 2015. Available from: http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/clinical/immunisation/fall-in-shingles-vaccinations-could-be-due-to-pharmacy-flu-scheme/20030833.fullarticle