The shingles vaccine, Zostavax®, has been approved by National Immunisation Program (NIP), to be provided free of charge from 1 November 2016 to people aged 70 years, subject to vaccine supply. There will also be a five year catch-up program for people aged 71 – 79 years.

  • Efficacy in this age group is 41%
  • Zostavax is contraindicated in the immunocompromised
  • A single dose of vaccine should be administered subcutaneously in the deltoid region
  • Zostavax can be co-administered with an inactivated vaccine at a separate injection site
  • It’s not necessary to check VZV serology before vaccination
  • Zoster vaccination is not recommended in people previously vaccinated with varicella vaccine
  • People who’ve had shingles can be vaccinated after a wait of at least a year

Individuals who should not receive the vaccine include the immunocompromised, pregnant women, and those who have previously had anaphylaxis to any varicella zoster virus-containing vaccine or its components.

 Immunocompromised patients are as follows:

  • Haematological or generalised malignancies (including those not on treatment): eg. lymphoma, acute or chronic leukaemia, Hodgkin's disease
  • Solid organ or bone marrow transplant recipients (with exceptions as advised by specialists)
  • HIV/AIDS (with exceptions as advised by specialists) or other congenital/acquired immunodeficiencies
  • Current or recent high dose systemic immunosuppressive therapy: eg. chemotherapy, radiation therapy, oral corticosteroids, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs