From 1 November, older Australians will have free access to the best protection against shingles through one of the most comprehensive and widely available vaccination programs in the world.
The Albanese Government is investing $826.8 million to provide almost 5 million people who are at risk of severe disease from shingles with a free Shingrix® vaccine under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).
This includes 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.
Shingrix® provides around 10 years of protection and usually costs up to $560 – for almost 5 million people that will now be free.
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.
1 in 5 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 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 2023, following advice from the independent medicines experts at the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).
Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:
“Without vaccination, almost one in three Australians will get shingles in their lifetime.
“Thanks to the Albanese Government older Australians will now have free access to the best protection against shingles through one of the most comprehensive and widely available vaccination programs in the world.
“This investment will ensure nearly five million Australians can get free protection from shingles and the very painful nerve damage that it causes.
“Shingles can be severe, so it’s really important that eligible people talk to their GP or pharmacist about getting the shingles vaccine.”