Australians at risk of shingles have access to a newly funded vaccine
- The GSK shingles vaccine, Shingrix, will be available to eligible people via the National Immunisation Program (NIP) on 1 November 2023.
- There are more than four million Australians aged 65 years and over. Many of these will now be eligible for a new funded vaccine against shingles.
- Shingrix is the first non-live vaccine to be listed on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for the prevention of shingles.1
- Shingrix is indicated for adults from the age of 50 years and above, and adults from the age of 18 years and above who are at increased risk of shingles.2*
GSK Australia welcomes the listing of Shingrix (Recombinant Varicella Zoster Virus glycoprotein E antigen (AS01B adjuvanted vaccine)) on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for the prevention of herpes zoster (HZ) and post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) in Australia from 1 November 2023.
Shingrix is the first non-live vaccine to be listed on the NIP for the prevention of shingles and PHN. Non-live vaccines do not contain live viruses so they cannot replicate in the body and do not cause disease, even in people with weakened immune systems.1
Shingles can be a painful and potentially debilitating condition. It is a viral infection that is caused by the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox earlier in life. About one in three people will develop shingles in their lifetime and nearly all adults aged 50 years and older carry the inactive virus that causes shingles.3-6
Those eligible for the Shingrix vaccination via the NIP on 1 November 2023 include:
- Individuals 65 years of age and older;
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals aged 50 years and older;
- Immunocompromised individuals aged 18 years and older with conditions at ‘high risk’ of shingles. These conditions include haemotopoietic stem cell transplant, solid organ transplant, haematological malignancy and advanced or untreated HIV.7
For people who are severely immunocompromised, the risk of developing shingles can be up to three times higher.8
Shingles also comes with the risk of post-disease complications, the most common being post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). The incidence of PHN increases with age, ranging from approximately 10% in people aged 50 to 59-years-old to up to 20% in those aged over 80.3,4
Shingrix is indicated for adults from the age of 50 years and above, and adults from the age of 18 years and above who are at increased risk of shingles.2*
Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney, and infectious diseases expert, Robert Booy, said the NIP listing is a positive step forward by the government in helping Australians who are vulnerable to shingles manage their risk of this painful and potentially debilitating disease.
“Shingles can be serious, and in some cases can result in patients being impacted by debilitating, long-term effects. People who develop shingles generally need time off work, sometimes for weeks, and if they experience post-herpetic neuralgia, the pain can linger long after the rash and blisters have disappeared.
“Those 18 years of age and over who are immunocompromised, as well as people aged 65 or older have greater potential to develop shingles and related complications. I encourage those who fall into the groups for this NIP listing to speak with their healthcare professional about their risk of shingles and how they can protect themselves.”
Giulia Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Painaustralia, stated the government’s announcement will be welcome news for many Australians at risk of shingles.
“The pain of shingles is often described by our members as the worst they have ever experienced. Often these people are already in pain due to other health issues, and if they develop ongoing complications, their life can be very uncomfortable.
“Painaustralia is really pleased shingles is being taken seriously by the government.”
Dr Alan Paul, Country Medical Director at GSK Australia, applauds the Federal Government’s decision to provide funded access to Shingrix.
"Vaccinations help keep people well, and can reduce demands on primary care and hospitals, as well as increasing productivity and benefiting the community and economy. The NIP listing of Shingrix highlights the government's commitment to prioritising adult vaccination. This is an important investment in the health of over four million Australians who are at greater risk of shingles.8”
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Shingles typically presents as a rash, with painful blisters across the chest, abdomen or face3-5. The pain can be described as aching, burning, stabbing or shock-like6. Following the rash, a person can also experience post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), pain lasting from at least three months up to several years from the onset of rash. PHN is the most common complication of shingles, occurring in 10-20% of shingles cases in adults aged ≥50 years depending on their age3,4.
Shingrix contains the active ingredient glycoprotein E (gE) powder mixed with AS01B adjuvant suspension. Shingrix is a vaccine. Shingrix is used to protect adults against herpes zoster (also called shingles) as well as the long-lasting nerve pain that can follow shingles called post-herpetic neuralgia or PHN.
Shingrix is indicated for:
- Adults from the age of 50 years and above
- Adults from the age of 18 years and above who are at increased risk of shingles.2*
Shingrix Important Safety Information2
Please talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your specific situation. The following are very common or common side effects that may occur after receiving Shingrix; headache, stomach and digestive complaints, muscle pain, pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, tiredness, chills, fever, injection site itching and generally feeling unwell. If any of the side effects get serious, or if you notice any side effects not listed here, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Please see Consumer Medicine Information for further information.
GSK is a science-led global healthcare company. For further information please visit www.gsk.com/about-us
In relation to this GSK media announcement, no honorarium was provided to Professor Robert Booy or Giulia Jones. They have been briefed by GSK on the TGA-approved use of this product.
For information on GSK products or to report an adverse event involving a GSK product, please contact GSK Medical Information on 1800 033 109.
- National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), Vaccine types and their components https://ncirs.org.au/sites/default/files/2022-12/Vaccine%20componenets%20fact%20sheet%20December%202022.pdf
- Shingrix Consumer Medicine Information https://au.gsk.com/media/6474/shingrix-cmi-au.pdf
- Australian Therapeutic Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) 2020, Australian Immunisation Handbook. Zoster (herpes zoster). Available at https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/vaccine-preventable-diseases/zoster-herpes-zoster. (accessed August 2023)
- National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) Zoster vaccine for Australian adults fact sheet, updated May 2022. Available at: https://www.ncirs.org.au/ncirs-fact-sheets-faqs/zoster-vaccine-australian-adults
- National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) Zoster vaccines for Australian adults. Frequently asked questions. Updated May 2022. Available at: org.au/ncirs-fact-sheets-faqs-and-other-resources/zoster (accessed August 2023)
- Harpaz R et al. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Prevention of herpes zoster: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recomm Rep. 2008;57(RR-5):1-30.
- Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care, Ministers’ media centre https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/media-centre
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (March 2023), National, state and territory population, ABS Website, accessed October 2023.
- Marra F et al. Open Forum Infect Dis 2020;7:ofaa005.
- Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care, National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System https://nindss.health.gov.au/pbi-dashboard/
- MacIntyre, R.et al. 2015. Increasing trends of herpes zoster in Australia. PloS one, 10, e0125025
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2019. The burden of vaccine preventable diseases in Australia. Cat. no. PHE 263. Canberra: AIHW.