Following the latest advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the NHS has updated two of it’s vaccination programmes. The shingles vaccination programme is being expanded and the HPV vaccine has been reduced to one dose
Steve Russell, national director of vaccinations and screening at NHS England said: ‘Making these vital changes to two life-saving NHS vaccination programmes will help protect millions of people, prevent disease, and ultimately save lives.
‘These measures have the backing of the country’s leading medical experts who continually look for ways to update our programmes and ensure those who need it are offered the best protection against serious illnesses.
The shingles vaccination expansion aims to protect more people at an earlier age, including those turning 65 and 70 and those aged 50 or over with a weakened immune system. Experts warn that, while shingles can occur at any age, the risk and severity of shingles increases with age and complications are higher in those who are vulnerable.
The NHS report that in the first five years after a shingles vaccine was introduced in the UK, there were 45,000 fewer GP consultations and 1,840 fewer hospitalisations for shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia.
Similarly, the NHS report a successful and ‘drastic reduction’ of HPV infections since the vaccination programme launch in 2008. Studies suggest that the vaccine has prevented around 450 cancers and 17,200 pre-cancers.
The successful reduction in cases informed the JCVI’s decision to reduce the HPV vaccine to one dose, instead of two in the hope this will make it easier and more convenient for young people to get protected.
From today, one dose of the vaccine will now be offered to those in year 8 (aged 12 or 13 years) via the school aged immunisation service. Children will be able to get their vaccine either in school or at a community clinic.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency, said: ‘a move to one dose for most of those eligible will make it quicker and easier to get protected. Latest evidence shows that one dose provides just as robust protection as two, so young people can be confident they are protected against the risks, including cancers, that the HPV virus poses’.